By JEWELS DODSON November 3, 2020
The heartbeat of a great story is a protagonist that evolves, starting in one place and transcending to another. Student photographer Shateek Mitchell, began taking photos as a teenager in Brooklyn’s storied Coney Island. Like many young artists he used his camera to crystallize spontaneous moments of youth culture, skaters mid-air, dancers in a cypher, and neighborhood adventures with friends. As a student at the International Center of Photography gradually Mitchell began ascending into the depths of storytelling.
At ICP’s 2020 Spotlights event Mitchell was awarded the inaugural Christian Louboutin Scholarship. Through Louboutin’s philanthropy Mitchell will be continuing his studies in ICP’s One-Year Certificate Program in Creative Practices and Documentary Practice & Visual Journalism for the 2020–2021 academic year. Christian Louboutin, a young artisan himself once, believes in cultivating emerging artists. “I’m very keen to support ICP’s work on cultivating a new generation of talent from different places in America and their efforts to support diversity through their scholarship programs,” Louboutin said.
Over time and under ICP’s tutelage Mitchell has garnered greater understanding of visual language, he now prefers long-form storytelling. Inspired by photographers Eli Reed, Roy DeCarava, and Dawoud Bey, Mitchell is currently developing two photographic series, Coney Island, where he’s chronicling the rapid gentrification of his Coney Island neighborhood. And All That Jazz, which focuses on two iconic Greenwich Village music venues Fat Cat and jazz bar, Smalls.
It was documenting the summer’s protests though, that sent Mitchell’s lens ablaze. He says, “photographing Black Lives Matter protests and their aftermath, I noticed that there was an added spark of energy in the younger protesters. I want to create a body of work centering around youth activists and their organized efforts. I think it’s an interesting project because there is something so special and energizing about seeing young people fight for their rights.”
Louboutin’s scholarship will provide Mitchell with a year long intensive course of study where he’ll continue to strengthen his personal vision and refine his technical skills. It is tangible philanthropy that creates space for burgeoning artists of color to transform into brilliant artists; and for diversity to be sustainable at an institutional level. Mitchell says, “One of my main goals in life is to be able to tell my story as well as the stories of other people, primarily Black stories. A learning environment like ICP’s Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism Program will help me to create stronger bodies of work and hone my skills, as well as receive different perspectives on my work from peers around the world.” WM
Jewels Dodson is a New York City based arts and culture writer and producer. Her writing has been published in JUXTAPOZ, the New York Times, and heard on WNYC. She believes if Kanye West can be in the mainstream's consciousness, why can't Kehinde Wiley?!
view all articles from this author