A photo from Images of Hope
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Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
January 14, 2009
DeKalb, Ill. — Do you have an image of hope? What does recovery look like?
Rhonda Robinson discovered her vision last summer.
“It was a fallen tree in a forest, with all the new growth coming out of the base of it,” says Robinson, a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Northern Illinois University College of Education’s Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment. “I found it a symbol of hope: That tree will live again.”
Her photograph of that tree, along with photographs submitted by anyone in the NIU community, will become part of a public art project she and Media Services, Outreach and the Office of Support and Advocacy are organizing for “NIU Remembers: A Day of Reflection,” scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 14. Visitors to the exhibition in the Holmes Student Center that day should find encouragement, hope and renewal in the electronic display and the dozen or so prints hanging on the walls.
All members of the university community are invited to submit photographs that they believe could address questions such as these: What does recovery look like? What do you “see” when you think of hope?
“People are moved by imagery. People can express themselves through photography,” Robinson says.
“Maybe there’s a place they go for solace – a classroom, a place in the residence hall, a hopeful place. Maybe it’s playing with a dog in the backyard. Maybe it’s a poster they’ve seen,” she adds. “We have no expectation that submissions be poetic or professional, just that it’s something that for the person represents hope.”
Robinson brought “Voices of Children: Exploring Childhood and Culture through Visual Literacy” to NIU in the fall of 2006. The exhibition’s simple premise – elementary school children, some from Illinois and others from far-away lands overseas, were given cameras and asked to “show us your world” – is always on her mind.
A trip last semester to a visual literacy conference at Virginia Tech, where employees from NIU and VT created a joint exhibition of photographs of recovery, convinced her and others to make “Images of Hope” a part of the Feb. 14 activities.
Scott Peska, director of the Office of Support and Advocacy, agreed and has worked with others on campus to make it a reality.
“Because ‘A Day of Reflection’ is a public event, a memorial day, I want people to know that NIU is, at least in part, recovering. We are moving forward. We do see hope. We can be optimistic for the future,” Robinson says. “That’s what we believe the victims and their families want – for us to try to succeed and do even better as a result of this event.”
Those encouraged to submit photos include survivors and their families, students, student groups, faculty, staff, members of the community and alumni. Organizers hope to create an archive of all images and encourage all all NIU community members to submit photographs in the next two weeks.
Images can have been created during any time period, not necessarily those taken during or immediately after last year’s tragedy. Photographs must be submitted by Wednesday, Jan. 28.
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