Born in Detroit in 1951, the photographer Wendy Ewald had been inspired by the Depression-era work of Walker Evans. After graduating high school in 1969, the 17-year-old Ewald taught a photography class to Naskapi and Mimac Indian children in Canada. With the help of a grant from the Polaroid Foundation, the young Ewald gave cameras to her young students to document their daily lives and surroundings. Ewald later described the honesty and directness the children were able to capture in their pictures:
The chief, drunk, trying to saw a board; a young couple fighting; a teapot on the windowsill; a great-aunt in her white Sunday dress sitting on the rocks by the shore.” Their photographs, she writes, ”were more complicated and disturbing than mine, and closer, I realized, to what their life was like.
After receiving a Fullbright grant in 1982, Ewald traveled to Raquira, Colombia where she lived and taught photography to children for almost two years. The pictures taken by the children show a colorful, moving and sometimes vulnerable image of the subjects and scenes from their everyday lives: a procession photographed by Carlos Torres; a line of chickens eagerly running after Carlos Andres Villanueva’s mother for food and Alirio Casas’ mother crouched down on a small stool in the kitchen, drinking coffee. For over forty years, Wendy Ewald has been an outstanding and inspirational teacher for hundreds of children all over the world.