To support and anchor his students at Community Prep, photography and art teacher Brian Tryon created a darkroom in the school’s basement in 2018.
“We had this space down here, and it kind of became a hiding spot for students with different trauma or anxiety, or who just didn’t want to go to class,” he said, adding that he noticed shy or socially strained students naturally congregating in the basement.
The following year, he expanded the photography curriculum into a classroom that serves as a working art studio, including manual and digital photography course work, photo editing, matting and framing stations and business tutorials.
This year, Tryon took his program even further by creating an in-house gallery, known as The Garfield Gallery, for the students’ work to be shown to the public.
Tryon’s observation dovetailed with a personal dream to invite the greater Colorado Springs community into the school. Along with input from students and artists from the area, he conceptualized a space to showcase student work alongside the work of local professionals. Since opening in March, The Garfield Gallery has exhibited local artists Jon Francis, Kevin Persaud, and Maria Fetterhoff. Other local artists are booked in the space a year in advance, Tryon said.
The Garfield Gallery is a DIY venue that provides space for under-represented artists. We aim to provide a platform for the voices of artists of all types.
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The gallery is run by students who attend Community Prep, an alternative school for at-risk youth. Student workers learn to curate, interact with clients, promote shows, and prepare artwork for presentation.
Our goal is to expand the arts community in Colorado Springs and give Community Prep students the chance to develop a skill set with hands-on experience. They earn credits they need to graduate by working in the gallery.