Ex Lab 2012: Get Ready to Say Cheese!

I’m pleased to introduce a guest post by new-bloggers, David Estevez and Crystal Lau.  David and Crystal are both students at Brooklyn Technical High School and part of BHS’s Exhibition Laboratory (or “Ex Lab”) after-school museum studies program.  The Ex Lab students have been meeting twice a week since February to create the newest exhibit for Brooklyn Historical Society, Say Cheese! Portraits to Pics.  Here’s a sneak peek from David and Crystal about what they’ve been working on and what you can expect to see in the exhibit (opening June 6th)!  Connect to the Ex Lab-ers on twitter @brooklynhistory using hashtag #ExLab.

Brooklyn Tech Junior Crystal Lau

Brooklyn Tech Junior David Estevez

Starting off each class in the unfinished basement underneath the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Ex Lab-ers (or The X LAB-ers, as we’ve deemed our superhero alter-egos) worked together this spring to create a cool, fun, educational, entertaining, home-y exhibit for you! Comprised of fourteen extremely talented students (including us) the X LAB-ers worked together to create the newest exhibit at BHS, Say Cheese! Portraits to Pics. We worked our tailbones off, and despite occasionally butting heads together, we were able to complete our task. As the process continued, our friendships began to take form as we come from four different schools and many of us had never met before the program.

Along the way through this  journey we learned about the history of photography, and how it developed over the past 150 years. We had professional photographers Harvey Stein and Nora Herting to teach us about their work and the cameras they use.  We also had experts such as photography scholar Sarah Katie Gillespie, image conservator Amanda Maloney, and exhibit text specialist Paul Rosenthal who also shared their expertise.

Ex Lab-ers Massy Vainshtein and Will Warren try out the Optivisor, a tool used to assess photo conservation concerns.

The earliest types of photos we learned about were the daguerreotype and the ambrotype which were some of the mediums we have in our archives. Then we looked at tintypes, cabinet cards, carte de visites and lots of 20th century prints – by professionals and amateurs alike – to choose from for the exhibit.  We also visited the International Center of Photography where we looked at other photography exhibits and the curators’ design choices. Along the way, we did everything from overseeing the design of the exhibit to selecting the best images that we wanted to display to weighing in on the graphic design for the exhibit’s marketing material.  In fact, we’re just finishing writing the labels and starting to install the exhibit right now!

Janet Ortiz and Alexa Wheeler decide how to arrange our photos on the walls.

One of our favorite things about the Ex Lab experience was being able to work hands-on with actual artifacts.  It was always a race to find archival gloves that fit to be able to get our hands on the material! To be honest, we also enjoyed the after-school snacks and time spent with a new group of friends. All told, through countless hours of explosive innovation and mind busting, gut wrenching hard work we somehow managed to give birth to our brain child which we named Say Cheese! Portraits to Pics. Join us at the opening reception for Say Cheese! Wednesday, June 6th from 5:30 to 7:30pm.

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One Response to Ex Lab 2012: Get Ready to Say Cheese!

  1. I am interested in learning more about your program as it appeals to our Educator’s Advisory Committee as a possible summer program offering.

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