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Two Eagle River School shows Missoula art community that they are Rez-Made

By Alyssa Kelly
Char-Koosta News

Current and former Two Eagle River Students answer questions at the Missoula Art Museum's showing of their photographs taken in New York City. (Alyssa Kelly photo) Current and former Two Eagle River Students answer questions at the Missoula Art Museum's showing of their photographs taken in New York City. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

MISSOULA — “Rez Made” photo exhibit was the rage during the Missoula Art Museum’s First Friday event for October. The exhibit featured black and white photos of New York City’s gritty streets snapped by 14 current and former Two Eagle River School students.

The Native American high schools students captured night lit skyscrapers, seas of traffic, and charismatically dressed people on the street during a trip the students took to the city a year ago. Coined a “trip of a lifetime,” the tour included stops at the New York Times newspaper, the New York University’s Photography department, art museums, and the Lower East Side Girl’s Club.

This is the third showing of the students work. (Alyssa Kelly photo) This is the third showing of the students work. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

Photography instructor and mentor David Spear said he organized the trip to show the students possibilities in photography careers. “Some of these kids came into my class saying they didn’t know what it meant to be photographer,” he said. “After they got started they went for it. I wanted to show them the whole process of galleries, editing… what it means to be a photographer.”

The “Rez Made” gallery has been displayed in New York, Pablo, and now Missoula. The framed works featured a profile of each photographer and each student treated guests with first hand accounts of inspiration and their most memorable moments from the trip.

Photography instructor David Spear took the TERS students to New York City to show them possibilities in photography careers. (Alyssa Kelly photo) Photography instructor David Spear took the TERS students to New York City to show them possibilities in photography careers. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

Mars Sandoval, 18, currently attends Salish Kootenai College and said he’s planning to study filmmaking. Sandoval said the food was a highlight of the trip. “I realized that we were in New York and New York steaks come from New York,” he said. “I ordered the steak medium rare because that’s how a steak should be eaten. It was so delicious. The mushrooms were cooked perfectly. I took a picture and sent it to my dad. He was so jealous.”

Xavier Smith, 15, experienced his first plane ride on the trip and said experience with photography etiquette was a memorable moment for him. “I took this really cool picture of this girl sitting in the street,” he said. “It was seriously a once in a lifetime shot and I had to take it. You’re supposed to ask permission before you photograph someone but I went up to her after and was like: ‘can I take a picture of you?’ she said: ‘yes.’ Then I walked away because I already took it. It was awkward.”

Friends, family and art enthusiasts listen to instructor David Spear describe the history of the student project. (Alyssa Kelly photo) Friends, family and art enthusiasts listen to instructor David Spear describe the history of the student project. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

Esperanza Orozco-Charlo, 16, took to photography and has since made a second trip to the city. Although her surprise encounter with a street rat was notable, Orozco-Charlo said a memorable moment came during her second trip while attending a summer camp with 92 other girls. “One thing I noticed was that all these girls were really mean to each other and bullying was really bad,” she said. “I finally got sick of it and told all of them that they needed to be nice to each other because what you say and do to one another you might not be able to take back.”

Esperanza Orozco-Charlo, 16, front, returned to New York City for 20 days after the first group trip. (Alyssa Kelly photo) Esperanza Orozco-Charlo, 16, front, returned to New York City for 20 days after the first group trip. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

Orozco-Charlo shared her experience losing her good friend to suicide this past year. “During basketball season my best friend Siah was teased at away games and people from the other teams bullied him and called him racist names because he was Indian,” she said. “He ended up killing himself. I bet those people feel bad now because they can’t ever take that back. That’s something I wanted to share with those girls: Be good to each other and treat each other with respect because you might not get to take back what you do.”

Spear said he hopes to plan another trip for future students and the gallery is milestone for the group’s career in photography. “I tell people, these guys aren’t my students they’re my peers now,” he said. “They’ve had galleries in New York, on their reservation, and now here. They are legitimate photographers now.”
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