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Documenting Quaranthings Through Photography
Documenting Quaranthings Through Photography

The assignment required some thought. "What items do you consider essential during quarantine?" posed Lower School art teacher Meghan Cangi-Mammele to her students.

Fifth graders had just finished up a unit on Flay Lay photography, so the question laid the groundwork for further study.

"They seemed motivated and interested in taking photographs, so I wanted to keep up with that energy," shared Mrs. Cangi-Mammele. "I was looking for something that would provide more individualization and expression. In my research I had come across a middle school teacher who teaches in Seoul, South Korea, and had done a similar project, and I thought our EA students to be capable of producing creative and positive results. Personally, I was interested in seeing the connections between children across vastly different cultures while in quarantine, so I decided to give the project a go."

After selecting their "essential" items, Mrs. Cangi-Mammele revealed the next step of the "Quaranthings" assignment.

"There are many iconic photos that have been taken throughout our history that help to describe and visualize the time it was taken in," she explained to her young photographers. "Your task as photographer is to capture this time in history and how it is affecting you by completing a Gregg Segal inspired self portrait."

Students put a lot of thought into their selections and strategically placed things that were important to them in the photos.

"That is what I was hoping for," shared Mrs. Cangi-Mammele. "In the images you see a lot of similarities in current trends and their age but a lot of differences because of their personalities and likes. For instance, you may notice several students and their love of X-Box, but you will also see that someone loves Cheez-Its. There were a few students who put a mask on, added hand sanitizer, and a roll of toilet paper."

Check out the student's Quaranthings photo gallery here.

Students were then asked to describe their image, why they chose their items, and the composition of their photograph.

"The picture I took represents not only the things that I have been using during quarantine, but also a little bit of what quarantine is like," reflected Fraser. "We have all been a little trapped lately, and I think this picture shows what it is like to be so isolated during quarantine for everyone's safety."

"My photo was of everything that I needed during this time of quarantine. I also put all my books because I read everyday and they help keep me occupied and not bored every minute of the day," explained Lindy. "I also set this picture up on my floral rug behind my desk because obviously I could not lay down on my desk where I am 24/7. Also, I put tons of pencils because I use them for art and school and go through so many."

Fraser showcased her agenda, computer, a mug for tea, and his earbuds. "My sister took this picture for me. I laid a blanket on my carpet and displayed the items on it. My sister stood on a stool and took the picture from above me. After we took the photo, I cropped out the spaces where you could see the carpet underneath and played with the editing tools to get the final product," said Fraser.

"These images I find to be the most telling of the way they are feeling and certainly capture this time in history. I often go back and find new things in each image," reflected Mrs. Cangi-Mammele. "I am trying my best to keep them engaged by assigning them a variety of techniques with multiple approaches, so far so good."