The Photography and Literacy Project (PAL) of Syracuse University has received a grant of nearly $27,000 from The Fay Slover Fund at The Boston Foundation, an organization that bestows grants to seed new organizations or programs within existing organizations with a mission to increase access to art in underserved communities. Under the leadership of Stephen Mahan, director of the PAL Project, this grant will fund a variety of outreach programs involving SU students mentoring and collaborating with members of the Syracuse community. This grant will provide the greater Syracuse community access to artwork created by youth; artwork that is reflective, moving and impactful.

The P.A.L. studio at the Nancy Cantor Warehouse

The PAL studio at the Nancy Cantor Warehouse

Organizations find that original artwork enlivens spaces and connects them to their constituents in profound ways. These young artists are delighted to give back to their community, and to exhibit their work in places that attract a large number of visitors. This generous grant allows PAL Project the opportunity to realize an enriching creative collaboration on all counts.  The projects from this collaboration will be professionally mounted, framed and installed in local social service agencies. Having this artwork permanently placed in various community agencies and organizations will further build the confidence and sense of self-worth of the young people that create it.

About the PAL Project: PAL Project is a comprehensive program that is housed in and utilizes the Community Art Spaces at the  Nancy Cantor Warehouse. PAL Project’s public access after-school studio program focuses on experiential learning.

With digital cameras and journals, PAL students work several hours per week for 10-12 weeks with SU mentors enrolled in Mahan’s course “Literacy, Community and Media” in the Transmedia Department of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. SU mentors offer instruction in media such as photography and video, along with writing exercises to develop projects that explore issues of identity, community and family. Students learn storytelling techniques and media skills that trigger critical thinking and self-expression, building multiple literacy and self-esteem as they explore their outside world and inner selves.

In connecting image making with writing and critical thinking, the PAL Project promotes an expansive use of digital media and creative writing across curricula and disciplines. In a sustained partnership with numerous Syracuse City School District schools and community organizations, the program has provided a creative outlet for students in the city’s lowest-performing schools and increased literacy and self-expression through the use of student photography and creative writing.

PAL Project is a member of SU’s Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC).

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