LEWISTON — For the past couple of months, Donna Flynn, a University of New England master’s degree student doing an internship at Trinity Jubilee Center, has worked with about a half-dozen girls in an after-school tutoring program for refugee children.

She has taught them how to use a camera to take images that help convey what their lives are like. They have since dubbed themselves The Downtown Girls, and their picture-taking has resulted in an exhibit, “Downtown Girls: A Reflection of Community,” scheduled to open Friday, April 29, with an opening reception from 4 to 7 p.m. at L/A Arts’ Community Gallery.

The girls each chose 10 photos taken during their sessions to be displayed at the gallery at 221 Lisbon St. through June 10.

“I truly believe in this project which empowers these young women and opens the door to a deeper dialogue within the community through the medium of photography,” said Odelle Bowman, L/A Arts’ newly appointed executive director.

The project goal is to provide insight into the lives of Lewiston’s newest residents and to help the larger community connect with the area’s refugee population. Practically speaking, Flynn also wants to teach basic photography, reinforce writing skills and help raise the girls’ self-esteem.

The girls were instructed in the ethics of taking photographs of people and learned how to critique their own work and photos taken by their friends. Cameras, donated for the project, will become the property of Trinity Jubilee Center for other projects, ideally with The Downtown Girls as instructors.

“I used a lens of social justice to envision this project,” Flynn said. “It’s been such fulfilling work. Not only have I gotten to know these wonderful young women, I’ve gotten to work with an amazing group of people at Trinity Jubilee Center.”

The exhibit may be viewed at www.laarts.org after April 29.


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