PABLO —Photography instructor David J. Spear recently announced that his Two Eagle River School students will be traveling to New Mexico later this summer for a one week educational trip. The trip is intended to expand their experience as young photographers and learners and to expose them to some of the possibilities of higher education.

“We are planning to take fifteen student photographers and several of their teachers on an intensive one-week educational trip to New Mexico in September 2019,” Spear said. To that end the TERS students will be conducting fundraising events this spring and summer to cover the costs of airfare, motel/hotel, van rental, food, travel bags, film, museum admissions, and spending money expenses. 

The students have earned the trip by honing their camera skills through a project entitled Our Community Record, an educational outreach program sponsored by the non-profit, A VOICE-Art Vision & Outreach In Community Education: 

Our Community Record is a collaborative project between A VOICE director and photographer David J. Spear, and Two Eagle River School.  

“Through storytelling and photographic studies, Our Community Record, seeks to teach students to explore and document their community, culture and history,” Spear said. “This learning process broadens student interest in their surroundings, builds self-esteem, encourages creative expression through the arts and prepares them for higher education.” 

The project has been ongoing for 18 years. An archive of images of the community made by students from the project is housed at TERS and is available for student and community use.

The 15 students going to the Southwest have been studying photography with Spear at TERS for the past one to three years. They have explored photojournalism, documentary and art photography. They have learned the nuances of the medium through the practice of shooting manual SLR cameras and developing and printing images with traditional black and white darkroom processes. 

While at home in Montana students study images, hear stories, and make their own work in the school’s darkroom. The trip, for most of the young students, will be their first opportunity to experience new places, communities and cultures while using their photographic skills to develop a new portfolio of work to share their experience with others.  

The trip will include visits to The University of New Mexico and The Institute of American Indian Arts as well as museums and galleries in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos. At those venues they will have the opportunity to learn from professional photographers, artists, editors, curators and university instructors. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to build peer-to-peer relationships and share their work with high school photographers from New Mexico. When they return, they will mount an exhibition of their photographs to share with the community.

In the words of the students: “We are 15 students and six staff from Two Eagle River School raising funds for our dream trip. The Flathead Reservation is a lot of things, but it is not like New Mexico. This trip is not a vacation, but a deep dive into the world of professional photography in a new cultural context. For us, photos are a way of communicating beyond the boundaries of the reservation where we live. Photography will be our hobby and maybe even our career. With images, we can tell the rest of the world unbiased stories of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. It’s not enough for the world to see our story and culture through the interpretation of strangers. With images, we can bring New Mexico back home, and tell its stories, here. We have been involved in planning this trip from the beginning. We will share our work in New Mexico while we are there. We will document our entire trip with original photographs and video. During and after the trip, we will exhibit our work and post our photos on a website to share with our community. This project is a way to show other people, outsiders, our culture through images instead of words. We meet a lot of people who are interested in the reservation and our culture, but we would prefer that they learn about it from us rather than through books or movies. We don’t show ourselves in stereotypes. We take pictures of what interests us, so our photos reveal how we experience the world. The things we will notice and photograph in New Mexico will be very different from what a tourist might photograph. We would be grateful for your support and contribution.”

All funds for this effort will support this trip and Our Community Record the photography project at Two Eagle River sponsored by A VOICE-Art Vision & Outreach In Community Education.

In 2016, 14 students from the project at that time traveled on the first TERS Trip Of A Lifetime to the Big Apple, aka New York City. Online links below include a video of the trip and a follow up news story about the students and their work from that trip. 



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