By Ron VandenBoom
The latest edition to the treasure trove of cultural activities offered by the Heritage Center will soon be expand by one as the Photography and Image of Each Other program prepares to open its doors.
John Well Off Man, chief organizer of the program said he expects to have students selected and ready to begin shortly after the second week of the start of the school year.
The Photography and Image of Each Other program is a year-long effort to combine the art of photography with the development of a cultural bridge between Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and the community of Havre.
Well Off Man said students interested in the program should write a letter explaining why they want to be a part of the program. They will also need to fill out an application and go through an interview.
Only four students from Havre High School and four students from Rocky Boy's will be chosen to participate in the program. The Havre students will be expected to spend much of their time at Rocky Boy's while Rocky Boy's students will spend much of their time taking pictures in Havre.
"It's going to be a sorting process," said Mary Lee Russell, one of the program's directors and a teacher at Stone Child College. "We need some students that are really interested."
Russell noted that students selected will "really have to have some energy and initiative" and be willing to make a commitment to the program.
"Some people will put in a piece of paper, but they won't put in themselves," she said, adding that it doesn't just take an interest in photography, but also an interest in inter-cultural communication.
Well Off Man expects to take the students through all the various aspects of photography from basic classroom instruction to sophisticated photo techniques and development. Students will learn enlargement, color and black and white processing, printing, matting, and many other elements of the photographic arts.
Students can also expect their work to be exhibited in a show in the Heritage Center Art Gallery at the end of the year and, according to Well Off Man, there is also a chance the exhibit could go on the road and some interest has already been shown by at least one east coast gallery exhibit. A possible European exhibit in Germany has also been discussed.
Donna McGregor, curator of the H. Earl Clack Museum, also expects to be able to add many of the photographs to the Museum's archives.
"It's very important that the cultural historical information be presented in the photographs," McGregor said. "They're not just pictures that we will be looking for."
McGregor added that the Photography and Image of Each Other program is a step forward in fulfilling the mission of the Heritage Center as the cultural hub of the Hi-Line and surrounding area.
The photography section of the Heritage Center is located in the basement of the building and consists of two rooms that currently stand almost empty.
Well Off Man said the first room will be the "presentation area" where classroom type instruction and lectures some provided by guest lecturers from across the state and around the country will be conducted. The second room will be the darkroom where students will learn and practice developing and printing as well as other techniques.
The program is still putting the final touches on preparing the classroom and darkroom. While some equipment has been acquired by donation and some grant money has also been received from various sources, there is still a need for basic furnishings.
"We need tables and chairs," Well Off Man said. "And lockers, we really need some lockers."
The program can in fact use all kinds of photographic equipment including point-and-shoot cameras, lenses, and developing equipment. They also need some black fabric to cover the entrance to the darkroom.
There is no cost to the selected students for the program except perhaps for the cost of a point and shoot camera.
Well Off Man hopes the community steps forward with the basic furnishings and equipment needed to allow the students to be provided with all of the necessary equipment and cameras at no expense.
"It's important to be able to not only teach photography but to increase the understanding between our two peoples," Well Off Man said.