DiverCity Lens



Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts, Yeou-Jey Vasconcelos/Principal Casandra Maniotis/Art Teacher 

It is an honor to work together with a talented group of educators and photographers through The DiverCity Lens program. Sharing ideas and holding critiques of our students’ work helps me grow into a better teacher and artist. Thank you for this amazing opportunity.


High School of Art and Design, Maximillian Re-Sugiura/Principal Brenna McLaughlin/Art Teacher 

The conversations I facilitated with students about “safe spaces” were very relevant and meaningful. Students were able to identify where they felt safe, to think, to create, to work through ideas. The photographs displayed capture their ideas of a safe space. We thank you for viewing. 


High School of Fashion Industries, Daryl Blank/Principal Ben Russell/CTE Teacher: Visual Arts 

I would like to thank Zion Ozeri, Karen Rosner and all my fellow photography educators for the wonderful work and camaraderie we have shared this year. It’s always great to get together with other teachers to discuss what works and doesn’t work in the photography classroom. Every time I meet with all these great people, I am able to go back to my school and share what I have learned with my students. Thank you once again for inviting us to be part of this year’s catalogue and virtual exhibition. 


Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, Manuel Ureña/Principal Elisa De Gregorio/Art Teacher 

The DiverCity Lens Program is unique because students and teachers across all five boroughs become a community of artists sharing their visions. An image created is shared with our students, teachers, other professionals, and then finally our viewers. We are all a part of this continuum of experience bound by the thread of our interaction with the image. As the reality of our world shifted, these images of sanctuary remind us of the human connection we share with each other across our planet.


Lower Manhattan Community Middle School, Shanna Douglas/Principal Jessica Sinclair/Digital Art Teacher

Photography is one way to give students a voice and showcase their views of the world. These photographs allow us to have a peek inside their world. We view their work through the lens of this year’s theme, Sanctuary. Finding comfort in a place or space especially during these times of uncertainty is more important than ever. Through these photographs my middle school students are able find their visual voice and tell a story about their own sanctuaries. 

Duality/Brianna Balk/ Staten Island/2020 11th Grade/Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts/Casandra Maniotis It has never been difficult for me to wander off into my mind. It is a safe space for me, where I can escape all my stresses and troubles, even for just a short time, and absolutely anything becomes possible. Surrealism tends to work this way, and it makes sense that it functions as a sanctuary to me, giving me the opportunity to go through a portal into a limitless world of imagination and possibilities. This particular window had an odd juxtaposition of various objects that really brought me back to my childhood. I saw the wonders of my mind become real right in front of me, letting me experience first-hand the duality between reality and imagination.
Zena/Claire Tucker/ Manhattan/2019 9th Grade/Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts/Casandra Maniotis Zena is from Trinidad. She is my surrogate mom, guardian, lifetime friend, confidant, and the subject of this photo. She insisted I take her portrait in nature where she felt most comfortable and therefore it became her personal sanctuary. I noticed an immediate physical change when we shifted from an urban setting to an organic environment. As I looked through the camera lens, Zena revealed her genuine self and soul.
Dream in Green: Eva in Sun/Zoe Vassiliou/Manhattan/2019 12th Grade/Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts/Casandra Maniotis In my Greek culture traditional family values are the top priority. However, when I moved from Greece to New York at a young age, my absurdly large family instantly decreased to three. I have such a small, tight-knit family with such interesting quirks who can tell endless stories about each other. I created a series in which I photographed each of them in a way that combined a great detail with a smidge of fantasy. While I appreciate photography for its descriptive quality, I believe that art should have a mystical, surreal, and metaphysical aspect. Its something I constantly strive to achieve in my craft.
Nature Bath/Casandra Maniotis/Bronx/2020 Teacher, Fine Arts/Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts While in quarantine, I have enjoyed simply being in nature. I love feeling the energy of the woods. Moments where the sun comes through the trees give me a renewed sense of mindfulness and peace.
Safe Spaces/Erica Fredes/NYC/2020 10th Grade/High School of Art and Design/Brenna McLaughlin The goal of this project was to fully understand what makes up an environmental portrait, and how to take one. The pictures I took reflect on the criteria for this project; every person I photographed has a special connection to their place. For example, my older sister really finds our bathroom her safe space because its the only place in the house where she can get away from all the craziness and just be able to think and relax. The main purpose of environmental portraits are to take pictures of people so that the viewers can get a sense of who this person is and where they feel safe. Its all about place, person, emotion, and composition.
Safe Spaces/Mara Matthews/Poconos, PA/2020 10th Grade/High School of Art and Design/Brenna McLaughlin This is my friend Erika over her birthday weekend when she and some friends went up to the Poconos. Erika is a very social person. I thought it was important to show her in this space to give the viewer an idea of a place that makes Erika most happy. She sometimes visits with a family friend so its a place where she feels comfortable but its also is a type of getaway from the city. I thought a lot about the composition and perspective, while keeping the personality, and an accurate depiction of the person in their environment.
Safe Spaces/Laiba Mehmood/ NYC/2020 10th Grade/High School of Art and Design/Brenna McLaughlin My environmental pictures showcase comfortable figures. In all my images people are smiling and are confident. They are in a well-balanced composition in which you can see the background and figure properly. The lightning is balanced through the use of natural and artificial light.
Safe Spaces/Esmeralda Paredes/NYC/2020 (Previous Page) 10th Grade/High School of Art and Design/Brenna McLaughlin A safe space is where a person feels secure, can be themselves and not be judged. For Isabel, its a basketball environment. In middle school she had a hard time making friends, but when she joined the basketball team, Isabel unlocked her safe space. Her group of friends grew. She became team manager, planning intermural games, and recruiting new team members. Now, every time Isabel shoots some hoops she has good memories of the basketball team back in middle school. Elements of photography used in this image are composition, focus, and space. Composing the image I tried to capture the surroundings to emphasize that she is at a basketball court. My focus allows the viewer to see what stands out, capturing their attention; the model and the basketball going into the hoop. Lastly, space was considered; the empty space in the background can be perceived as negative space.
Friends/Cynthia Bueno Cinto/ Manhattan/2019 11th Grade/High School of Fashion Industries/Ben Russell These are my two closest friends, Ashley and Lesley. They have been with me at my lowest and have helped me get to my highest. I love them with all my heart.
Untitled/McKayla Faye/Manhattan/2019 11th Grade/High School of Fashion Industries/Ben Russell This photo was taken in the window of a building in Chelsea, New York. I focused the camera on the sculpture inside of a building, making me and the outside blurry. I want people to be reminded that they should take a break from the craziness going on in their lives and just stop, focus and listen.
Abode/Annette Palacios/ Brooklyn/2019 11th Grade/High School of Fashion Industries/Ben Russell This is a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexican culture a symbol of ones identity and faith. Every year, I attend her feast day mass, and watch as the church fills up with people gathered to celebrate their cultural roots. This image captures the comfort, hope, and beauty I have found within my Catholic, Mexican upbringing.
Untitled/Rosibel Romero/Bronx/2019 11th Grade/High School of Fashion Industries/Ben Russell This is my little sister holding one of my stuffed toys while standing on my bed. What makes this photograph successful is the light coming from behind herit gives this look of freedom. She is young and she is enjoying her childhood, and I love that.
Brooklyn, April 2020/Ben Russell/Visual Arts Teacher As teachers we often feel that we spend more time at school with our students then we do at home or with our own families. In the Spring of 2020 our homes had to become sanctuaries as a deadly disease attacked our city. Suddenly, I had no choice but to spend most of my time with my family. In this photo my wife and her sister and my two teenage sons are creating a card for my father-in-laws 80th birthday. A beautiful small momentsomething that a photograph can show so well.
This Tunnel/Kayla Duran/Manhattan/2020 11th Grade/Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School/Elisa De Gregorio My path, my future, my walkway of right and wrong, my way to discover... my future footsteps? I carry this question, curiosity, this fear within, but I still wonder when will this tunnel begin? One step at a time, I keep my path, my belief.
The Climb/Francesca Fiorita/Manhattan/2020 12th Grade/Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School/ Elisa De Gregorio Climbing up my own ladder has been life-changing. The struggles, encounters, experiences it is all worth it. Knowing this ladder will lead me towards my biggest successes and rewards is exhilarating.
Ball Is Life/Javon Martin/Morningside Avenue/2020 12th Grade/Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School Name/Elisa De Gregorio Basketball has always been a part of me and my life. I started playing basketball when I was in the third grade and I never stopped because I knew I could go places. I have seen people that really could have made it, but they got lost in drugs. Thats why I push myself to strive for greatness.
Dreams and Thoughts/ Cithaly Sanchez/Bryant Park/ 2020 12th Grade/Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School/ Elisa De Gregorio Is this just an ordinary water fountain? Or a place to keep wishes? In the safety of a moment, people toss coins behind them into the fountain as a way for them to lock their wishes.
Leaving the Station/Elisa De Gregorio/Art Teacher Brooklyn/2019/Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School Between arrival and departure, suspended between points without responsibilities and demands, I am just one of many. A fellow traveler lost in my thoughts.
Home/Presley Holder Yoon/Manhattan/2020 8th Grade/Lower Manhattan Community Middle School/Jessica Sinclair This photo of my sister, Mia represents sanctuary to me. My sister reminds me of home, or sanctuary because she always makes me feel comfortable and safe. I love being around her. Photographing her was awesome because she is a natural model and knew exactly how she wanted to pose. She loves dressing up and I wanted the photo to show who she is and what she enjoys. I feel like she is almost glowing, with the light shining in from the window next to her.
Green Spaces/Ryan Littles/Manhattan/2020 8th Grade/Lower Manhattan Community Middle School/Jessica Sinclair Sanctuary means a safe place. This half building and green environment shows a safe environment inside of a big city called New York. These green spaces help me feel connected to nature even though we are surrounded by concrete.
Warm/Matthew Scheinman/Manhattan/2020 7th Grade/Lower Manhattan Community Middle School/Jessica Sinclair A bench with a faded yellow background sitting in the sun the emotions I tried to show in this picture are warm, colorful, and bright. I chose the compositional technique of contrasting colors and took this photo because I liked the way the yellow stood out from the dark colors. This scene means a lot to me because I used to play here. If I had more time to retake the photo, I would have taken it from farther away so I could see the end of the bench.
Privacy/Leena Yesley/Manhattan/2020 8th Grade/Lower Manhattan Community Middle School/ Jessica Sinclair When I think of sanctuary, I think of privacy, having a place for yourself, and maybe being with a group of friends. A door represents privacy. It blocks out the world and no one can see you. This room has a door thats slightly open, and its a place where you can be safe and happy. It wants you to be part of it.
Morning Snow/Jessica Sinclair/Digital Art Teacher City Island Bronx/2020/Lower Manhattan Community Middle School The first snow of winter has delicate flakes that cling to the sea grasses near the beach. The sound of the world is just a little quieter and calmer as a new day emerges after the snowfall. Grasses of summer are covered with winters blanket.
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