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Cole High School photographers featured at UT Institute of Texan Cultures exhibit

By David DeKunder | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | May 6, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

Photos of San Antonio places and landmarks taken by Cole High School students at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston are the focus of a special exhibit on display at the University of Texas at San Antonio Institute of Texas Cultures.

The exhibit, titled “San Antonio: Esta es mi Ciudad,” which translates to “This Is My City,” includes 31 images taken by 16 students in the Cole photography program. Photography students, whose works are displayed in the exhibit, and Brenda Marafioto, Cole High School photography/journalism teacher, attended the opening reception of the exhibit March 29.

Exhibit photos include buildings, tourist sites and architectural features of structures across San Antonio, from the historic missions to downtown to the Pearl. The photos taken by the students last fall were part of a class project in which they learned about architecture and elements of art and design in photography.

Marafioto said she and the Institute of Texan Cultures came up with the theme of the exhibit, “San Antonio: Esta es mi Ciudad (This is my City)”, to commemorate the San Antonio Tricentennial – the 300th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio in 2018 - while acknowledging the children of servicemembers who took the photos that make up the exhibit.

“We picked that theme for the exhibit because our kids are from all over,” Marafioto said. “We wanted their perspective on San Antonio.

“What does San Antonio mean to them from the time they are living here as a military child? So we asked them to look at it from different perspectives, different angles and artistic elements that they find in our city,” Marafioto added. “How can they show us this city, in which some of us have lived in forever, from a fresh set of eyes, from a fresh perspective?”

Marafioto said the formation of the exhibit came about after staff members from the Institute of Texan Cultures viewed a gallery of photos done by the students at the Fort Sam Houston Museum last fall.

When the institute contacted Marafioto, she told them the photography students wanted to do an exhibit focusing on the architecture of buildings and structures, in support of the San Antonio Tricentennial.

Sixty student photographers submitted images for the exhibit at the Institute of Texan Cultures. The final 31 images for the exhibit were chosen by a group of Fort Sam Houston Independent School District administrators and teachers and local photographers.

The number of photos in the exhibit displayed by each of the 16 students selected ranged from one to six.

Raquelle Bennett has six of her photos on display in the exhibit. She said her favorite image is one she took of a downtown parking garage, which has a circular shape. The photo was taken with the camera looking downward at the parking garage as a vehicle moves on one of the levels of the garage.

To add contrast to the photo, Bennett made the background, including the parking garage, black and white, and left the vehicle, which was yellow, in color.

“It was just very pleasing to the eye, it was like super swirly,” Bennett said. “So, I wanted to take a picture looking down for the perspective. It showed a lot of elements of design because the repetition of the pattern of the parking garage goes into a swirl.”

Hannah Cook submitted a photo of the Arneson River Theater, located on the San Antonio River Walk, for the exhibit. The photo is a collage of several images she took of the outdoor theater.

“There were certain things we were told to create,” Cook said. “So I thought an artistic way to do it was to take tons of different pictures of the Arneson in small portions and just bring them together, make it look like it is a collage. All of the pictures have a meaning to it, every single part of the Arneson is grouped, brought together by each other. Each little tiny detail is important.”

For one of her photos in the exhibit, Julia Alvarez took an image of Mission San Jose reflected in a glass ball held up by the hand of Marafioto.

“We were on a field trip and we always take different types of props we can use,” Alvarez said. “I just thought it would a cool idea to see how it would look in the image. So I had Mrs. Marafioto hold the ball up towards the building. Working with balancing the focus off and on the ball and trying to focus on the background and then the ball, it was just a really fun experience to do.”

Marafioto is pleased by how the exhibit turned out and the quality of the photos taken by her students.

“I think it was an incredibly unique perspective that highlights the diversity of our city,” she said. “They showed San Antonio as both a cultural center and an element of art.”

“San Antonio: Esta es mi Ciudad” is scheduled to run through July on the first floor of the Institute of Texan Cultures, located at 801 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. in downtown San Antonio.

For more information about the Institute, including hours and admission, visit http://www.texancultures.com/.