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Cole High School student photos focus of Fort Sam Houston Museum exhibit

By David DeKunder | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Aug. 23, 2018


A gallery of photos taken by Cole High School students and the stories behind those photos is the focus of a new exhibit at the Fort Sam Houston Museum.

The photo exhibit opened Aug. 9 at a reception hosted by the museum, located in the Quadrangle at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, and attended by Cole High School students, teachers, administrators and parents. Cole is located on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and educates the children of servicemembers.

The 36 photos in the exhibit, which will be on display through December, are from 19 current and former students in the Cole photography program. 

Brenda Marafiato, Cole photography/journalism teacher, said she was looking for a way for her students to display their work outside of the classroom when she contacted Dr. Bryan Howard last year, Fort Sam Houston Museum curator, to see if the museum could set up an exhibit for the students’ photos.

“One of our goals is to make their (students) projects meaningful and relevant to them, which means getting their work out in the community,” Marafioto said. “I’m so grateful to the museum for partnering with us. It was a lot of work on their part and they stuck to it. For any artist or photographer to have a piece displayed anywhere is a big deal, but to have an entire gallery devoted to a high school is so humbling. We’re so proud and grateful for that opportunity.”

Howard said the museum is hosting the photo gallery for the high school students because it wants to represent all of the population at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

“We like the visitor to understand that JBSA-Fort Sam Houston is about the whole military family and these kids are part of that family,” Howard said. “Some of the creativity and things they’re learning here is going to carry throughout their lives and this is a good example of what they’re learning here at the school on post.”

As far as he knows, Howard said this is the first time the Fort Sam Houston Museum has hosted an exhibit featuring a project put together by Cole students.

Marafioto said student participation in the exhibit was voluntary, with 30 to 40 students submitting five photos each to the museum for consideration. More than 200 photos were submitted to the museum, with Howard and retired Army Lt. Col. William Meder, a museum volunteer, selecting the 36 photos that are in the exhibit.

The photos in the gallery are spread out among five panels with titles and categories including Portraits, Still Life, Military Life, Architecture and Nature. Each of the gallery photos has the name of the student underneath it with a caption written by the photographer explaining the background and meaning of the picture.

Marafioto said the exhibit contains photos students took while on class field trips, as part of a class assignment or their own free choice portfolio.

Laura DeLeon, a current Cole student, and two former Cole photography students, Matthew Craig and Sarah Haftorson, had their photos displayed in the exhibit gallery.

DeLeon said she submitted her photos for the exhibit because she wants to be involved in a project that allows her to grow as a photographer.

One of the photos she took and submitted was of a place where barbecue is prepared and cooked.

“I saw the barbecue house,” DeLeon said. “I decided to stay outside and capture the smoke and all the details going on outside. I’m hoping (museum visitors) will see the details – something more in depth (in the photo).”

DeLeon said the project that led to her photo being put on display has taught her a few things about photography.

“I learned that no matter what you do,” she said, “as long as you try you are going to take something out of it, whether good or bad, it will shape your future.”

Several of Craig’s photos were chosen for the exhibit gallery, including nature pictures he took while on a trip to Alaska. Those photos include a reflection of a mountain in a lake and a bald eagle perched on a tree.

Craig said the photos he submitted for the exhibit are among his best he has taken and won awards at a statewide photography competition.

“I enjoy nature photography just because the slightest angle change and slightest time difference can change an entire photo,” Craig said. “It’s just your perspective on how you look at what you’re looking at and how you capture it.”

Craig said he hopes the people who view his photos get inspired to see the world.

“I really hope people look at this and realize the beauty of our planet and they want to get out and travel the world,” he said.

Haftorson has five of her photos on display in the gallery, including one of the landscape of Manhattan at night and the other a reflection of the World Trade Center in New York.  She explained why she took both photos.

“I thought the landscape (of Manhattan) was really beautiful,” Haftorson said. “I wanted to capture it at night because it’s like the city that never sleeps, and the reflection (of the World Trade Center), I liked how both of the buildings of the World Trade Center captured each other in one photo. I wanted to reflect the new versus the old ones (of the World Trade Center) and how it’s continuing to evolve.”

Marafioto said she and Howard are planning a second exhibit gallery of photos from Cole students at the museum, possibly in the spring.

“Dr. Howard and I have been talking about how to continue to grow this program and community partnership,” she said.

The Fort Sam Houston Museum is free and open to both Department of Defense cardholders and the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Visitors who want to come to the museum but do not have DOD access to get into JBSA-Fort Sam Houston should refer to the JBSA website at http://www.jbsa.af.mil/library/visitorinformation.asp for base entry requirements.

To contact the museum, call 210-221-1886.