By Marianna Reilly
Last month, photographs taken by teenagers in foster care shared art gallery walls with a private collection of images by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Fifteen young men and women in The New York Foundling’s Youth Development program were given disposable cameras with the assignment of capturing their daily lives throughout the month. Ten of their photographs were selected for display — and for auction — at Soho’s Mayson gallery on April 14th for a benefit event called “The Foundling in Focus.” The Annie Leibovitz collection on display featured portraits of Whoopi Goldberg, Louis Armstrong, Steve Martin and The Blues Brothers.
“This unique opportunity gave our kids a chance to show us how the world looks through their eyes,” said Bill Baccaglini, Executive Director of The New York Foundling. “Having their work displayed in the company of such famous photographs in such an elite gallery just reinforced the importance of their vision and this opportunity for creativity.”
Prior to the event, the young photographers were given a private tour of the gallery, learning about the day in the life of a gallery director and receiving lessons on exhibiting artwork.
This fundraiser, the first of its kind for The Foundling, raised more than $15,000 for the Foundling’s Youth Development program, which helps prepare young men and women to successfully transition into adulthood upon aging out of foster care. The program assists youth in securing housing, identifying and pursing educational and career goals and acquiring vital skills to ensure they’ll be able to live independently, despite the odds stacked against them.
All of the framed photographs taken by youth were purchased through a competitive auction held at the event. The Annie Leibovitz collection was not for sale.
The New York Foundling, a Catholic Charities agency, has been serving children in need since 1869 with services including foster care, child abuse prevention, community-based family services, supportive services for teen parents, residential alternatives for developmentally disabled people, an innovative charter school, and youth development programs. Learn more about the New York Foundling.