Girls to Women Portraits on Display


By Eva Barrows

The thought-provoking Girls to Women (G2W) photography show is on display at Midpen Media’s studio Art Walk through December 20th. The exhibit features two themes explored by G2W youth participants, “Words of Wisdom” and “When I Wake.” The Words of Wisdom project pairs inspirational and powerful photography of the girls against brilliant colors in nature and urban landscapes with quotes created by the girls to impart their wisdom. The When I Wake series features mostly black and white portraits of the girls with empowering messages written on their skin. The messages stem from dreams, aspirations, and values the girls are striving to make a reality.

Katie Gonzalez says, “Don’t let little words overpower your feelings.”

Patricia Foster, a 2019 Local Hero and former East Palo Alto Mayor, founded G2W to help young women of color gain confidence and a sense of community. She enjoys watching the girls develop over the course of the eight-week photography workshops. The girls pick the theme they are going to explore, take photos under the direction of a professional artist, and then pick their best work to display at a local café and present the image in front of an audience. Van Nguyen-Stone is the artist who led the girls during the workshops resulting in the photography on display at Midpen Media. Some of the life experiences that come up during the celebratory closing presentation at the end of each workshop are hard to talk about. The supportive community of girls, family, and friends encourage each other and help the girls to stay strong and grow their self-confidence.

Cherilyn Rodriguez Balladares says, “The Rock never stopped trying, neither should you.”