Over the past three years I have been exploring educational institutions that act as a vehicle for class mobility. It is the American ideal that one can rise above their class if they work hard enough in school. Anyone can be president, or anything they wish to be. These structures, meant to be the building blocks of one's future, are the egalitarian basis for opportunity. For my current work, I chose to investigate the private sector of secondary education to see if proper funding could create the model school. If so, what advantages are evident, and how are they maintained?
Distinction in decoration, architecture, and cleanliness are all aesthetic values exemplified in the preparatory academy's built environment. These visual expressions project a certain weight upon students to perform at higher standards. Portraits of trustees, classical pillars, tapestries, and sports centers all serve as reminders of the merits students must achieve. Such a high standard of living comes with expectations for students to perform at academic levels just as great.
Using a wide-angle lens when shooting helped to communicate this sensation, as the overwhelming breadth and demeanor of the space could be included in the frame. By photographing without human presence I hope to create a stage-like setting, so that it is up to the viewer to project their own ideas onto how they might experience each area. Through this portfolio I hope to touch upon both the advantages and limitations of the elite prep-school edifice.
- Lissa Rivera
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