Youth Programs - Aperture Foundation Visual Literacy Program

Aperture Foundation Visual Literacy Program at the Grand St. Settlement and Hudson Guild Beacon Centers

Visual literacy has become a vital skill, central to the successful navigation of modern life. Aperture teaches that photography is a form of communication with method and purpose, and provides the visual-literacy training and tools that young people need to navigate the ocean of images from television, advertising, and the Internet. Visually literate learners are capable of building connections between verbal and visual representations. These skills are learnable, teachable, and capable of development and improvement when facilitated by direct student involvement in the process and equipment used to create objects and visual images. Aperture’s educational programs are a catalyst for the exploration of photography’s role as the primary visual medium for mass communication in a democratic society.

Building on the 2012 program with Grand St. Settlement, Aperture has developed an innovative curriculum to teach visual literacy skills through digital photography and digital bookmaking. Aperture’s visual literacy curriculum, Looking at Me, Looking at You, Looking at Us, offers in-depth, hands-on, after-school photography classes at the Grand St. Settlement Beacon Center on the Lower East Side and Hudson Guild Beacon Center in Chelsea. Throughout the 2013/14 academic year, Aperture’s professional teaching artists are teaching a twenty-week curriculum in weekly ninety-minute sessions, with two groups of twenty students at each site.

Aperture and the Beacon Center staff are targeting the nine-to-twelve-year-old age group because we feel that this is a critical moment to capture their interest and stimulate their imaginations before they enter middle school. The curriculum is designed to develop students’ observational, reasoning, and image-creation competencies, as well strengthen writing, critical-thinking, problem-solving, and technical skills, and aligns with the national Common Core Learning Standards for College and Career Readiness. Aperture’s staff includes our deputy director Sarah McNear, who oversees all education and public programs, and education assistant Schuyler Duffy, who will assist with planning and curricular logistics. Our experienced teaching artists are Chris Lopez, Angela LaSalle, and Alice Proujansky, who is also working on curriculum development. On-site, Jim Furlong, director of arts at Hudson Guild, and Mimi Woldemariam, Beacon director at Grand St. Settlement, oversee their staff and student participation in the programs.

If you represent a school or educational program interested in developing a partnership with Aperture, please contact Sarah Anne McNear, Deputy Director, at

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