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WVU hosts professional photo workshop for high schoolers

RCB student work in the Art Museum of WVU

After spending the last six weeks learning about photography and growing their skills, 13 students from Robert C. Byrd High School in Clarksburg now have their work on display at the Art Museum of West Virginia University.

The students participated in a professional photography workshop facilitated by the Art Museum of WVU in conjunction with the exhibition, “Walker Evans: American Photographs, ” on its first stop on a national tour that celebrates photographer Walker Evans’s landmark solo exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1938.

In partnership with the Art Bridges Foundation, the museum received funding support to enlist Raymond Thompson Jr., a freelance photographer and multimedia producer at WVU, to build a curriculum and lead students through the ins-and-outs of photography. Thompson is currently pursuing his MFA in photography at WVU’s School of Art & Design and has contributed for national outlets includes The New York Times, The Intercept, NBC News, Google, among others.

“Raymond formed the whole workshop around a photographer’s vision,” said Heather Harris, PhD, educational programs manager. “The students participated in a virtual tour of ‘Walker Evans, American Photographs,' and using Walker Evans photographs as a starting point, Raymond was able to teach about Evans’ vision and why it is considered one of the most important in twentieth century American photography.”

Thompson met with the students every day virtually for the first two weeks of the workshop, where he immersed them in the work of contemporary photographers, including his own portfolio. Students used these examples to explore both technical and creative aspects of photography, completing small assignments along the way. He also brought in Rebecca Kiger, a documentary photographer from Central Appalachia, whose work was recently featured in Time Magazine, to lead a session.

The students were then given two weeks to capture their own images and create a visual story of their homes, families, and neighborhoods. Each student brought back 20 photos, then met with Thompson, Harris and their teacher to select between two and four of their best images. The 45 final photos are now matted and installed through April 25 in the Art Museum’s Plevin Lobby and on the Schultz Balcony, also made possible by support from Art Bridges. The Art Museum of WVU is open 12:30 - 6 p.m. Friday - Sunday. Visiting is always free, but reservations are required. To book a timed entry, visit

“As a teacher, it was wonderful to watch students have fun modeling and experimenting with different viewpoints and subjects,” said RCB Art Teacher Katherine Crim. “Many of my students have never been to a museum or gallery and have never been included in an art exhibit. This may impact them forever.”

Art Bridges is the vision of philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton and is dedicated to expanding access to American art in all regions across the United States. Since 2017, Art Bridges has been creating and supporting programs that bring outstanding works of American art out of storage and into communities. Art Bridges partners with a growing network of nearly 150 museums of all sizes and locations to provide financial and strategic support for exhibition development, collection loans from Art Bridges and other museums, and programs designed to educate, inspire and deepen engagement with local audiences. The Art Bridges Collection features American masterworks of historic American art to the present day and encompasses painting, sculpture, photography, among other mediums. For more information, visit