Local Teacher a Finalist in National Geographic Photo Contest

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Jamara Knight, a local preschool teacher and photographer, currently has a photo in second place in the National Geographic Photo Contest.

Read the full press release by Carol Bradsen:

UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEE FINALIST IN NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO CONTEST

TUCSON — A University of Arizona employee is one of six finalists in a National Geographic photography contest. The photo, Dust Dance, captures the joy of children dancing in Mwanza, Tanzania. The photo was part of an exhibit displayed at the University of Arizona in the Kachina Lounge in 2010. Jamara Sky Knight, took the photo while volunteering at the Hands of Mercy orphanage in Mwanza in fall 2008.

Many of the children at the orphanage, and in the picture, lost their parents in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Knight said. “The photograph represents lives not lined with sadness and despair, but brimming with hope, playfulness, and joy,” she said. Knight works with toddlers at the Wings on Words preschool in the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Department at the University of Arizona. Wings on Words provides early intervention services to children with speech/language disorders.

Knight is also a community-organizing artist. She studied at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. She teaches photography along with personal storytelling to youth as a way to help them find their voice and give them an opportunity for self-revelation, healing, and empowerment. Her first project began in 2006 while working as an AmeriCorps VISTA when she taught photography classes to children of incarcerated parents. She also taught photography to youth in Africa, and many of their photos were displayed along with Knight’s work at the University of Arizona last year.

“I believe that art and narrative can help build and strengthen communities and that I have a responsibility to share this tool, "Knight said. Knight’s partner, Shawn Casey, is a second year law student at the University of Arizona. “In the image the front row of boys are the teachers and the children behind them are from the orphanage,” Knight said. “Some of them were too shy to dance at first, but with a little time they were all moving their bodies in unison.” Votes from the public will determine the winner of the contest. Voting ends March 10.


Click here to see more of Knight's work, and here to register to vote for Knight's photo on the National Geographic website.

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