Merging media art and history, one photo at a time

What do you get when you combine a media arts program with a history class? One pretty unique, integrated residency! Working alongside history teacher Erick Taft, teaching artist Samantha Hill took a 10th grade Lake View High School class back in time to learn all about the Great Migration (1915-1960) and its connection to the Great Depression and Harlem Renaissance – on a historical AND visual level. Students viewed and interacted with actual vintage family photos from the time period in conjunction with their regular lessons, allowing them to make personal connections to historic events through the images. They also explored the role of scrapbooking as a means of expressing thought, journaling, and preserving the past. “The photographs served as a catalyst for many engaging dialogs about aspects of American history,” Samantha said. “History became reflections of a person’s life instead of dry information from a textbook.”

For their final project, students were divided into groups and asked to choose a number of the photos to scan, add graphic titles to, and compile into a digital scrapbook video. Take a look at what they came up with right here!

The photos used in this residency were derived from Samantha’s Kinship Project Archive, a collection of 143 years of family photography containing over 3,000 candid and professional pictures. For more information on the Kinship Project, click here!