The Fourth Annual Everyday DC exhibition, on display at Pepco Edison Place Gallery in downtown Washington, DC March 11-12, 2020, is the culmination of a visual arts curriculum co-written by the Pulitzer Center and District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). The curriculum asks middle school students across the District to think about media representation and stereotyping — of faraway places and of their own city — and then to use photojournalism skills to share images that more accurately represent their everyday lives in the District. It is inspired by the Everyday Africa project, which was created by Center grantees Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill.
In 14 middle schools across all eight wards of Washington D.C., over 600 students explored the curriculum with the support of their visual arts teachers, Center staff, and journalist-grantees throughout the 2019-2020 school year. They then set out into their communities with cameras in hand to compose images that capture everyday life in the District. Together, their images capture the breath of life in their city and dispel pervasive misrepresentations of their communities. Their images reflect friendship, nature, urban life, and more.
The gallery exhibition was originally scheduled to be open to the public until Friday, March 20, but closed early as a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With this virtual gallery, we hope that the artistry and narratives of Washington, D.C.’s middle school students can remain more accessible than ever. Below, you will find three galleries of images that hung together at the exhibition, which was curated by eleven students from Hardy Middle School. You will also find every image featured in the exhibit listed by school. As you review the images, try to keep in mind the following questions from the student curators’ opening remarks: What photos stand out to you? What stories do they tell? What do you learn about D.C. from these images? How do these photos change your perspective of Washington, D.C.?
Above, a poem written by the curators greeted visitors upon entry into the gallery and set the tone for the exhibit to be explored. Next to the poem hung a wall titled Moods and Vibes. The images from that wall, which was curated by students from Hardy Middle School, can be found below.
Each of the 14 participating schools submitted 10 photos, compiled in presentations at the links below. These images represent a selection of hundreds of images composed by D.C. public middle school students as part of the Everyday DC cornerstone unit.
- Brightwood Education Campus
- Columbia Heights Education Campus
- Alice Deal Middle School
- Eliot-Hine Middle School
- Excel Academy Public Charter School
- Hardy Middle School
- Charles Hart Middle School
- Jefferson Middle School Academy
- MacFarland Middle School
- Oyster-Adams Bilingual School
- Sousa Middle School
- Ida B. Wells Middle School
- Wheatley Education Campus
- Whittier Education Campus
Everyday DC was inspired by Everyday Africa, an Instagram page started by Pulitzer Center grantees, photojournalists Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill, also Pulitzer Center grantees. DiCampo and Merrill were on assignment in Cote d’Ivoire covering the aftermath of a civil war when they noticed their images of the country, and of the African continent, that made it back to U.S. media outlets were representing only a part of what they experienced living there. So on Instagram, they created Everyday Africa (@everydayafrica) to counteract these pervasive narratives with images of everyday life across the continent’s 54 countries.
The Everyday DC curriculum, broken down into seven lesson plans, can be found here in its entirety. The Pulitzer Center encourages visual arts educators anywhere to consider adopting the curriculum — and encourage students to consider and promote their own narratives about their communities in the process. For more information on how to bring this project to your school and/or district, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.