By JEFF CLEMETSON | La Mesa Courier
La Mesan Chantal Lane is making a difference for young artists, while also pursuing her passion for photography.
Lan began her life in Canada, but moved to Orange County when she was four years old. After high school she pursues a bachelors degree in photography from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, a school she described as having “a long and prestigious reputation in photography, but came to a sad end more recently.”
After graduation, Lane moved to the San Diego area, met and married her husband, had a beautiful daughter, and eventually purchased a home in La Mesa in 2012.
“We absolutely love our community,” she said.
It was Lane’s husband who introduced her to the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in San Diego‘s Balboa Park.
“I loved it so much that I started volunteering there as part of their camp program,” she said. “By the end of the summer, I was offered a job in their education department.”
That was back in 2002. MOPA developed Lane’s love for arts education, and after working for several other arts institutions in San Diego – working with different communities for institutions that represent a variety of art mediums – she found her way back to MOPA in 2015.
“MOPA, photography, and arts education are just part of who I am,” she said.
La Mesa Courier recently cought up with Lane to learn more about the work this difference maker does.
What is your role at MOPA?
I hold the title of Manager of Youth and Visitor Engagement. This is a role that has developed over the last couple of years as we have moved to an education-based experience for all of MOPA’s visitors.
I oversee all of MOPA’s youth programming, which includes our school outreach programs, our spring and summer camps and our annual juried Youth Exhibition — along with the very talented staff that teach and work on these programs. I also oversee MOPA’s Visitor Engagement team, who provide an engaging and educational experience for visitors in our galleries.
MOPA is redefining what an art museum experience should look and feel like. We are not interested in creating a space that is intimidatingly quiet or academically inaccessible. We believe that the art presented in our galleries is open for interpretation and discussion. We want visitors to chat with us and ask us questions, and feel free to express thoughts and responses. Our visitors get to guide their own experience, but we are there for them.
Of course, we are now needing to pivot in response to current events! Our philosophical position around accessibility remains, but we will again need to reimagine how to best serve our community.
What is the Youth Juried Exhibition? What does it do for young artists?
Since 2006, MOPA has asked K-12 students from Tijuana and San Diego to submit photographic artwork for our juried youth exhibition. Previous years challenged youth to interpret sound, boundaries and the self. This year, we’re asking youth to interpret the theme of “growing up.”
MOPA’s juried youth exhibition is an opportunity for local youth artists to exhibit their photography and short films at our museum. For an entire exhibition cycle, their creations are on view.
Every year, we hear a lot from parents on what the experience does for their young artists. From exhibiting higher levels of confidence to showing more interest in being creative, the outcomes that we see are in a way what encourages us to show their great work every year.
How can young photographers get involved?
Youth artists can complete their application at MOPA.org/yx. On that website, they will find requirements and instructions for how to submit their artwork. We also provide a list of FAQs to support their process.
As always, the best way to stand out is to have fun and get excited to create art. Make work that reflects who you are and what’s important to you.
With camps and programs cancelled or postponed, what kind of projects or resources can young artists/photographers utilize right now?
There’s a lot of ways to be creative still, and a way MOPA is looking to show that is with our new online show directed toward youth. Called “Through My Lens,” it provides weekly opportunities and challenges for youth and their families to engage with the camera and make art. Find the show online every Friday afternoon at MOPA.org/YouTube.
This can also be a time that is spent creating that one artwork that will make it into MOPA’s youth exhibition. This is the chance to become an exhibiting artist. That’s exciting.
Any final words about MOPA, the future of programs, etc.?
No one knows when this will be over and when we will be able to safely return to Balboa Park. We are very optimistic that MOPA will be able to get past this and thrive in the future. Please know that we are looking forward to having you all be a part of that future.
— Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at email@example.com.