An independent day school serving grades K-12 | St. Paul, MN

Sa Schloff '85

ARTIST STATEMENT

I have spent many years photographing architecture and portraits of students inside of schools. In past years I photographed inside of Lane Tech College Prep, which is a coveted selective enrollment high school with an impressive, castle-like building and the largest student
body in the state of Illinois. 

I am currently photographing at my neighborhood school: Mather High School is a bit of a plain Jane compared to Lane. The building itself was originally a junior high school, built in the 1960s. It is fairly bland and each hallway looks the same. The students, however, are quite vibrant, hailing from many different countries. The school’s motto is ‘Celebrating Diversity’ and more than 75% of students speak a language other than English at home.

I hope to highlight the rich diversity of students at Mather High School by making formal portraits of students in Ethnic Clubs. Some of the students, like Fatimah, from Republic of Guinea, have only been in this country for a few years, while another student, Niko of Greek Club, was born in this country, but speaks fluent Greek and returns to his ancestral country most summers. My goal is to visually contrast the students in their respective ethnic outfits against the institutional architecture of Mather.

While this project did not set out to be overtly political, the current anti-immigrant cultural zeitgeist has forced my hand. These kids are America’s future; their pride in and connection to their respective cultures enriches us all.