Belmont High School Photographers Exhibit at the ArcLight Hollywood with Emmy Winning Cinematographer John Simmons
LOS ANGELES, California-September 21, 2016- One year in the making, photographic offerings by Belmont High School students and Emmy award winning cinematographer John Simmons will appear on the walls of both the upper and lower level theater lobbies of the ArcLight in Hollywood, September 14- November 7, 2016.
The exhibit features a fusion of archival images from the Simmons collection, in addition to selections from his current portfolio. These street photographs make a divine pairing with the student images, showcasing the layers of childhood. Many of Simmons’ images were taken when he was the same age as Belmont’s emerging photographers. The students have certainly benefitted from the tutelage of Simmons. “Sometimes it takes a cinematographer to help teenagers find their focus,” noted Elizabeth Bush who runs the photo program for inner city students. “John makes yearly visits to my photography classes and we are so thankful for his kind and inspiring presence. He initially arrives as this abstract figure from the world of Hollywood, yet he leaves my students with a substantial gift. After his visit, students feel renewed inspiration to lock into the moments that hold greater import in their lives.”
Simmons feels equal admiration for the students at Belmont High. “Every time I’m at Belmont, I’m amazed at the openness Miss Bush and the kids have,” said Simmons. “A love of seeing and capturing life is being shared in that room. A door has been opened by Miss Bush and it’s about humanity and connectedness. Everyone in that class is growing frame by frame and I grow every time I’m with them.”
Simmons and the Belmont student exhibit follows a summer installation of Gregory Auerbach’s work, featuring iconic figures in music, art, and Hollywood history, an intimidating group of characters to replace upon the walls. “We live in a town that habitually celebrates glamour and glitz, but my goal with the program always revolves around encouraging the student photographers to uncover a Los Angeles that is hidden in the gaze of their little brothers, sisters, or within the hands of a woman who toils in a roadside shoe repair truck to put her daughter through college,” said Bush. “The photographs are a claim to what is also their city.” Berenyze Sanchez, one of the students featured in the exhibit, agrees. “I hope that people who see the exhibit get a hold of how other people live, not just the famous people of Los Angeles.” Cinematographer David Morrison, a longtime fan of the student work through their annual displays at Trader Joe’s in Silverlake, appreciates the message. “I’m thankful the students shared the secrets of their own existence.”
The gravitas of the artistic appearance at the ArcLight is not lost upon the humble students in Bush’s program. “I feel honored because I never expected my photos to appear in an exhibit next to John Simmons, a photographer I really admire,” said Nicolle Reyes, a member of Belmont’s photo program. Reyes hopes moviegoers feel touched by the images. “I think people will get to know other stories of kids who have different lives than them,” said Reyes, “but we’re all the same at heart. Our souls are the same.”
The good natured Belmont students will continue to inspire John Simmons and instructor Elizabeth Bush long after the run of the exhibit. “People often see teenagers myopically, dismissing them as apathetic or hopeless narcissists,” said Bush, “but I am honored to be surrounded by human beings who have so much square footage in their hearts,” said Bush. “Their depth and breadth of spirit shimmers in their work and it delights me to see teenagers create a new mythology through photography.”