Flowers. Butterflies. Children. Elderly people. Dogs. The subjects of the photos are not particularly unusual. But when visitors to Reasons to be Cheerful, an ice cream parlor in West Concord, learn the story behind the shop’s current exhibition, they stop to take a second look.
The brainchild of teachers-in-training Rebecca Laders and Jason Musselman, the photos represent their project in Honduras, where they spent a summer in a rural village teaching children ages 5 to 18 about photography. Each photo in the show was taken by one of their students in Flores, and proceeds from sales will be used to help build a library there.
Laders and Musselman launched a nonprofit organization, Our Journey for Hope, and are being helped by an established group, Esperanza — Hope for the Children Inc., with their fund-raising efforts.
It was the second project for the pair, who previously went to Khayelitsha, a slum near Cape Town, South Africa.
“Our goal for this project was two-pronged,” said Musselman. “As with South Africa, we wanted to empower young people to explore their world in a different way, and also to show other people just how they see the world. For many of our students, it is the first time they have ever touched a camera. Students are provided a unique opportunity to learn a new skill, an outlet to express themselves, and have a great deal of fun while doing so. But we also wanted to do that in a way that had the potential to better their own community, which is why we are now selling the photos for them.”
The digital cameras were all donated, several by a group of photo hobbyists in Bedford. The couple left the cameras in Flores, along with batteries, in hopes that the children would continue taking pictures.
To Lader and Musselman, the project relates meaningfully to their goal of encouraging empowerment and self-expression, but to the students, it was often just a lot of fun.
“The language barrier was our biggest challenge,” Musselman said. “Both of us knew minimal Spanish, so we had a translator in the class. Each class session would begin with a mini lesson in which we’d sit down at a computer and teach them something specific about framing or composition. Then we’d all walk around taking pictures. The community was tremendously supportive, and would invite the kids into their houses and gardens.”
“When we first gave the kids the cameras, they were very focused on taking pictures of each other,” said Laders. “Then they started looking more at landscapes and scenery. Animals were always a big interest for the kids.”
It was a learning experience for Laders and Musselman, too.
“We lived right in the village among our students,” Musselman said. “We’d hear chickens walking across our tin roof and dogs barking all night.’’
Wade Rubenstein, proprietor of the Reasons to be Cheerful shop at 110 Commonwealth Ave. in West Concord, was delighted to host the exhibition.
“As young philanthropists, Jason and Becca are inspirational, hard-working, and positive,” he said.
Both are earning a master’s degree in education from Lesley University; Musselman is a student teacher in the history department at Concord-Carlisle High, where Laders will student-teach English next year.
The photos, on exhibit through May 6, may also be viewed at www.ourjourneyforhope.bigcartel.com.
AREA ART DISPLAYS: Natick artist John Smith is exhibiting his portraits of Native Americans, based on photographs from the portfolios of Edward Sheriff Curtis, Gertrude Kasebeir, and Frank Rinehart, next month at the Dover Town Library, 56 Dedham St. A native of Nova Scotia, Smith is a self-taught artist who works primarily in pastels. For library hours and more information, call 508-785-8113 or go to www.dovertownlibrary.org.
The New Art Center in Newton is hosting an exhibition that combines Cristina Hajosy’s experimental book and mixed-media art with Wen-hao Tien’s contemporary Chinese calligraphy starting Monday and continuing through May 10. There will be a free reception from 6 to 8 p.m. April 5 at the gallery, 61 Washington Park in the city’s Newtonville section. For gallery hours and more information, call 617-964-3424 or go to www.newartcenter.org.
Richard Hill’s “A Joint Show With Myself” is at the Belmont Gallery of Art through April 12. The exhibition features 40 acrylic paintings from Hill’s iconic portraits assemblages, as well as pieces from his story paintings that reimagine narrative stories incorporating ancient myths, folk tales, and legends. The gallery is on the third floor of the Homer Building, 19 Moore St., in the Town Hall complex in Belmont Center. Go to www.belmontgallery.org.
Fountain Street Fine Art presents “Sight Lines: A Trio of Artists,” featuring works by photographer Greg Heins and painters Roy Perkinson and Andrew Haines, through April 21 at 59 Fountain St. in Framingham. A reception with the artists is on April 6 5 to 7 p.m., and an artists’ talk on April 14 2 to 3 p.m.
Call 508-879-4200 or go to www.fountainstreetfineart.com for more information.
MUSIC AND FILM: Children’s musician Mariana Iranzi celebrates the release of her second album, “Hola Hello,” with a family concert on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St., Arlington. $10, $8 children and seniors, $7 members. Call 781-646-4849 or visit www.regenttheatre.com.
Middlesex Community College is featuring “The Iran Job,” the story of an American basketball player in Iran on the eve of the Arab Spring, at 6 p.m. Thursday in its Campus Center Café East, 591 Springs Road in Bedford. The free program begins with refreshments, and concludes with a discussion with the director, Till Schauder.
AUTHOR TALK: Best-selling essayist, memoirist, and novelist Anne Lamott will do a reading at First Parish in Bedford on April 8, with a book signing.
Her most recent books are “Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son,” and “Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.”
The free reading begins at 7:30 p.m. at 75 Great Road; books will be available for purchase. Call 781-275-7994 or go to www.uubedford.org.
Send ideas to nancyswest@ gmail.com; include date of event in subject line.