To expand on the five images each artist has displayed on the Metro Photoville FENCE, we got our hands on some additional photographs and had a conversation with the artists.
Scroll down for photos submitted by Monika Lawrence (follow her on Instagram), and read more about what she had to say.
Monika Lawrence grew up in East Germany and began her professional career as a foreign language teacher, shifting into social work after the Berlin Wall came down.
She started photography in the nineties and later took classes at photography schools in Berlin. During a social work conference in Croatia in 2005, she met her husband Mark, a geography teacher at Bemidji State University.
She moved to the area in 2008 and began teaching photography and photojournalism at BSU and freelancing as a photographer for Minnesota Public Radio News.
Her focus in photography is people in their environment, as well as people’s impact on the environment.
Each summer the Red Lake Band of Chippewa in northern Minnesota organizes an Ojibwe Language and Culture Camp for children, youths, and adults in Ponemah—a remote village in the backwoods of the Lower Red Lake. Ojibwe, an Algonquian language, is listed as “vulnerable” according to UNESCO. Only about one hundred elders are fluent Ojibwe speakers currently in the region.
Experiencing punishment for speaking Ojibwe in the boarding schools up until the 1970s, many chose not to teach their language to their children. Consequently, the language was on the brink of being lost—but the tribe took great efforts to bring back not only Ojibwe as a spoken language, but also the Ojibwe culture and way of life. The camp, in the backwoods of the Lower Red Lake, is an intergenerational community effort to keep the heart of the Ojibwe culture beating within American society.
All photos were taken on assignment for MPR News, July 26, 2018 in Ponemah, Minnesota.
This series was featured on the Photoville FENCE 9th edition: Metro Regional Photographers Showcase displayed in the Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead.
“I think she was too young but several of her siblings or family members were playing and so he kind of got a hold of that lacrosse stick and was just holding it,” says Monika.
“With my photos I wanted to focus on the love, the fun, and the joyful learning within the Ojibwe community,” says Monika.
“It was all generations that were on the field when I when I was there, let’s say from eight, nine years old up to sixty years old.”
“I think is typically considered as being harsh, not easy to live on a reservation. But still, there is so much laughter and so much fun. And they have an incredible sense of humor, which is always something that I love to experience when I’m working with the Ojibwe people here in the region.”
“I did this series when I was on assignment for NPR – I’m a freelancer for MPR and not a staff photographer – and I try to kind of as objectively as I can reflect what I experienced, what I see, what happens in front of me.
“But I always also try to, if it’s possible, to show a positive aspect in that story. The heavy background here is that it’s a language that is on the verge of disappearing. Yet there is so much hope, there is so much fun.”
“There’s so many dimensions to these people and this is what I hope I can show with my images,” says Monika.