Ebony Pinkett may not yet know of Ansel Adams and Margaret Bourke-White, but the 9-year-old girl from Northeast Washington has something in common with those award-winning photographers.
A black-and-white photograph taken by Ebony has been selected as one of the outstanding local works of the year by curators from the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of Art.
"It's exciting," the shy Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School fourth grader said of the honor, shared by 70 other local artists whose works will be exhibited at the Martin Luther King Library in December. "I'd like to keep doing it."
She shot the photograph, a self-portrait that shows her grinning face and lithe body suspended above a background of rocks, while she was participating in a 10-week workshop operated by the MET-KIDS program, a division of the Capital Children's Museum that provides free art classes for about 200 children living in or near the H Street corridor. It was the second photograph Ebony had ever taken, she said.
The picture is on exhibit at the Capital Children's Museum, 800 Third St. NE, along with the works of four other children, all between the ages of 7 and 12. Most of the photographs were taken either at Union Station or on the museum grounds and show "a new and positive dimension of our city," according to the program's organizers.
In the workshop, the children learned the basics of using a 35-mm camera, how to process film and how to make prints. Nestor Hernandez, the workshop teacher, said the children have surprised him with their facility for and dedication to the craft. "They realize that it's more than just picking up the camera and clicking the button," he said. "I try to make them conscious of what they are shooting."
"People are really shocked when they see the quality of the work the children have done," Hernandez said. "When we first put them up, I had people saying they thought I had done the work."
On a hot day last week, the 12 children in the workshop were engrossed in producing and evaluating their latest negatives, even though the two darkroom fans did little to cool the stifling air.
"I like shooting people moving," said Thaddeus Singletary, 11, a sixth grader at Walker-Jones Elementary School, as he proudly displayed his photograph of a group of Chinese dignitaries visiting the museum. "I like to hurry up and get it when they're not looking."
For their next assignment, Hernandez plans to have the children go out and interview and photograph longtime residents of the H Street area.
Heather Ampofo-Anti, director of the MET-KIDS program, said that she and Hernandez started the photography workshop last summer with two enlargers and three cameras. Although several more cameras have since been donated to the museum, there are not enough to go around, she said. The museum provides the film, paper and chemicals.
In addition to the photography workshop, the MET-KIDS program has classes in theater, soft sculpture, design, video, computers, dance, music, drawing and printmaking.