Student photographers join the pros for Museum of Photographic Arts exhibit in San Diego

At the Oct. 12, 2019 opening of ‘Dreamscapes,’ Addison Gonzalez, now a senior at Torrey Pines High School, poses with ‘A Summer’s Day in the City' at Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, San Diego.
(Photo by Maurice Hewitt)


Since 2006, MOPA — the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park — has been inviting K-12 students from San Diego and Tijuana to submit their photographic works to a juried youth exhibition. Each year, there’s a specific theme; this year it was “Dreamscapes,” asking the young photographers to explore their dreams, hopes and fears or create a dream-like landscape with their cameras.

Out of 876 entries, 100 were chosen — 91 photographs and 9 short videos. The photographers’ ages range from 5 to 18 and, as always, the works are impressive, many touchingly personal and some strikingly original.

Four of the students are from Torrey Pines High School, one is from The Bishop’s School, and a number of the younger ones are from Generations Center for Youth Advancement, an afterschool center in City Heights that helps kids with their class work and encourages them to express themselves through art.

A second exhibit, “The Stories They Tell: A Hundred Years of Photography” draws from MOPA’s collection of about 9,000 photographs from the 1920s to the present. Many of the 33 photographers chosen may not be familiar names to most of us, so this is a chance to see some wonderful images we’ve probably never seen before — 147 of them.

At the Oct. 12 opening of the exhibitions, almost 400 visitors — including the proud families of the student photographers — admired all the images and took some of their own.

If you haven’t been to MOPA lately, now is a fine time to plan a visit, with these shows and other delights on view through the holidays. Don’t miss stepping into “Hidden Worlds: Making the Invisible Visible” in the front gallery, with its X-rayed sea creatures, gorgeously magnified insects, and spooky slo-mo 3-D videos. Try the zoom-in Touch Table for super-close closeups, and the Soundwave Photo Booth for extra-special selfies.

And take a little walk down the corridor of portraits by Bern Schwartz (1914-1978), who lived in La Jolla in the 1970s, turned to photography at age 60, and captured the spirit of many notable people, including Prince Charles, David Hockney and a young Zandra Rhodes.

IF YOU GO: The Museum of Photographic Arts, 1649 El Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. “Dreamscapes” runs through through March 1, 2020; “100 Years of Photography” to Feb. 17, 2020; “Hidden Worlds” to Jan. 12, 2020 and “Portraits” by Bern Schwartz to Jan. 19, 2020. Admission: Pay what you wish. (619) 238-7559.

Alexander Rodchenko’s ‘Girl with Leica, 1934,’ one of the pieces in ‘The Stories They Tell: 100 Years of Photography’ on view at Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, San Diego
(Courtesy Photo)
Roen Carlson, 10, also from Generations, poses with her sister, Reese, who was her model in ‘The Apprentice' at Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, San Diego.
(Photo by Maurice Hewitt)
Nohemi Torres, 13, with her ‘Land of Broken Dreams' at Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, San Diego. She has been studying art for six years at the after-school Generations Center for Youth Advancement in City Heights.
(Photo by Maurice Hewitt)