During the early phases of the project, contact is established with the school and the regional authorities through our project managers in Germany as well as locally in the slums through the local project manager and the field worker. Here is where the necessary partnerships and foundations for a long-term implementation of our goals are built. Selecting the participants is achieved through a set of criteria Art Meets Education created. Teachers at the school as well as field workers then suggest participants, which meet our criteria. Such criteria require that the child must be between the ages of five and nine years old. Of unimportance is the fact whether the child is already has gone to school or not. Another requirement is that the parents must not have the financial means to send their children to school. Furthermore, it is extremely important that the parents support the idea of their children getting an education, because without a positive attitude towards education, AME can no longer be of any help. In order to make sure that the child and family meet the criteria, there is a scheduled visit at the home of the parents and children, where an extensive interview is carried out.
Before the actual photographing begins, there will be a meeting with everyone involved. Here is where families and children have the opportunity to get to know one another as well as to once again be informed of the idea behind the project. It is at this point where the children take part in a photography workshop, which is led by a professional photographer, and become familiar with the important aspects of photography and the technical features of a camera and its proper handling. Concerning what the children photograph, AME sets neither borders nor guidelines - we essentially take a back seat to their creativity. Nonetheless, our team is there to accompany them to assist during the production process when necessary. After the conclusion of the production process, an interview is carried out, in which they express who they are as individuals and what aspirations they have in life. In this manner, each photograph is given a face and a story. What is astonishing is that much of what they express in the interview is frequently reflected in their photos. This illustrates that children have an inner compass, which guides them and in turn, deserves our fostering and support.
After the children have returned the cameras, the pictures will be developed and viewed together with a member of a public authority. This is where the decision is made as to which photos will be selected for the exhibition. Photos that show nudity, violence, or deny the dignity of the person photographed will be discarded and disposed of. From the beginning of the project up to its conclusion, close cooperation with the family is extremely important, in order to not only foster support between both parties, but to secure permission for the use of the photographs as well.
The next step after having made the selections from the children’s portfolios is to create exhibitions for them in Germany. The selected motifs will be edited and, as is custom in the art market, framed, and hand-signed by the artists in a limited edition of five copies to be sold. In addition to the limited copies, there are posters and postcards, which will also be distributed and sold by AME. Important to us is to present a sense of proximity to the artists and their lives. As a result, portraits and interviews with the children will also be on display at the exhibitions.