The After School Project
Summary: The @afterschoolproject (2011-2017) is an Instagram-based project that examines how urban youth spend their time outside the gaze of their teachers and parents. The project primarily takes place in New York City and is meant to be a playful yet nuanced census of how adolescents act unabashedly themselves, pretending to be grown-ups, despite the complicated and sometimes unequal social and educational systems they must navigate.
The project, which began on Instagram
, gained worldwide exposure after it was recognized as an exceptional finalist in the inaugural Getty Images Instagram Grant in 2015. The work has been exhibited at Photoville (2016) and on the East River Ferry (2016) and was featured In The New York Times
, The Atlantic
, VICE I-D
, The Guardian
There are an estimated 1.1 million school children in over 1,800 schools accounted for by the New York City Department of Education (DOE). This sweeping statistic has floated in my head ever since I began photographing youth in New York City in 2011. When I began interacting with these by-products of the Department of Education on the city streets, I became enthralled with documenting the fleeting romances, playful friendships, mischief making and general teen loitering that is so specific to this demographic and yet hidden to the rest of the world.
While most of the moments I was capturing felt banal and lighthearted, the more I photographed and got to know these teenagers, the more I realized there was so much more going on beneath the surface. These young people navigate a racially-charged urban society and school system. This small window of time in the after school hours is theirs to take ownership of, making it the most interesting and authentic to photograph.The more I photographed these teens, the closer I came to the systems that are helping to shape or harm them. Beginning with sports teams (football and wrestling) and by slowly working my way inside select public schools, I've become closer to the issues that ail the New York City school system, the most segregated in our country