The Accompagnateur Project
Photography Workshops to Bridge Divides
Women’s Prison Association
Working with the formerly incarcerated in this “Advanced Class” including ten women to build self-identity,
self-awareness and tools for competent communication. These women were selected for their desire to become advocates for criminal justice reform.
My 2-session photo workshop is a part of a two-month program. During our first class we explore self-identity and emotional vocabulary by working with large photographs to illustrate the story of their lives. The exercise is to imagine a book about their lives. What would the title of that book be? With several chapters in the book what would be each chapter’s title?
Camera work comes after. We pair each with another classmate for portraits, with the focus on the humanity and the individuality of each.
The women keep the cameras between the two sessions (one week apart) and return with an image for their book cover.
The second session is dedicated to their assignment and we discuss each photo for their book cover.
Each receives a printed portrait of themselves taken during the first class.
By holding it they share more about their story, their struggles, their hopes.
I Am Your Protector
Pico Union Project, Los Angeles
Working with individuals from marginalized communities including Skid Row and participants sent by the LA probation office, the first step is to bring cohesion to this group with little affiliation or connection to one another. We start by illustrating the humanity in each of us by sharing more about ourselves after an initial introduction.
To see deeply and listen fully we share a trait, a gift, a quality we have. What is it we want to share and relay? This framing question is followed by camera work and a pairing between people from different communities, cultures.
By taking mindful portraits we learn to be present to our partner, to engage, to connect.
Between sessions, participants photograph an inspiring person in their community who is a Protector. Someone who helps and protects the “other”.
Participants return with amazing narratives of individuals they want to honor. Selected stories will be highlighted in one of the upcoming I Am Your Protector exhibitions.
Each receives a printed portrait of themselves taken during the first class. By holding it they share more about the trait or gift mentioned in the first session in conjunction with their lives and what matters to them.
West Bank, Israel
West Bank, Israel
Pico Union Project
Saskia Bory Keeley partners with humanitarian organizations to share their valuable work with the world, including Leaders' Quest (India), END Fund/ Amani Global Works (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Roots and Taghyeer (West Bank) and We Love Reading (Jordan).
Saskia runs photography workshops in which participants unpack decades of fear and bias through the simple acts of looking and listening. She is exploring where these workshops can be helpful in global conversations toward peace (Roots and Taghyeer, West Bank) and within divided communities (Pico Union Project ) Los Angeles.
Saskia's work has been published in the Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, the Lycée Français magazine, Women Across Frontiers, the East Hampton Star, corporate annual reports like UBS and the END Fund, Future Stars and Hamptons Marathon magazine, as well as on numerous websites.
Saskia was educated at Geneva University, Sotheby’s and the New Academy for Art Studies in London. She also received training at the International Center for Photography. She is currently enrolled in the Interspiritual Counseling Program (ISC), a 3-year training at the leading edge of the newly emergent field of Interspiritual counseling (One Spirit Learning Alliance - NYC).
Based in Manhattan, Saskia also spends time in Amagansett, Long Island, and Geneva, Switzerland.
SASKIA BORY KEELEY
Saskia was able to garner the trust and confidence needed to take the very intimate photos of people suffering from stigmatizing and disabling diseases, while also managing high-level relationships with Ministry of Health staff and village leaders.
Ellen Agler, CEO
The END Fund
Saskia has been extremely patient and caring in working with people. Trust and dignity are always at the forefront of the way she interacts with her chosen tasks.
Rana Dajani, PhD, Founder, Director, We Love Reading
Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger
Roots Co-Founder and Director of International Relations
The participants in Saskia’s workshops found her to be a wonderful teacher, and under her tutelage gained important photographic skills. Most importantly, the cameras created a human bridge, breaking down barriers and fostering contact as women took portraits of each other necessitating human connection. She successfully took into account the extreme sensitivity of our endeavors and avoided the many minefields that litter the ground.
Craig Taubman, Founder, Pico Union Project
During our week with Saskia and 16 people from diverse cultures and faiths at the Pico Union Project, all of the planning and conversations could never have captured the essence of this truly wonderful artist, and the remarkable way she is able to bring out the humanity of others.
Shuli, A Student from the Roots Workshop
I wanted to share with you a meaningful moment I experienced last week, I hope I can express it in English.
We were driving around Tekoa and were stuck behind a slow truck. A Palestinian truck that had a print of a bride: A Palestinian young woman with a big head scarf, of the same sort our friends in the workshop were wearing. I found myself staring at it (while driving slowly...) with a warm heart and a sense of intimacy. In that moment I realized how deep and basic it is what you gave us in your workshop: intimacy.
We didn't talk about deep or highly important subject, but we looked closely at each other's faces, clothes, and bodies, we became aware of details. This is something I never had the chance to do, nor ever had a thought of the importance of doing it.
Palestinian people are strangers, distant, unfamiliar to me. Even if I don't regard them as enemies anymore, they are still very far. Now I looked at this foreign woman on the picture and felt physically and emotionally close to her because of her big scarf and strong makeup. I subconsciously recognized these as familiar to me. It made me happy and raised my belief that step by step change can happen.
In Through the Lens of Humanity Saskia describes the crucial work done on the ground by local peace organizations, the hardship experienced with the situation becoming more harrowing, the moments of inspiration as well as the ones when remaining hopeful is a challenge. She shares the stories of many of the individuals she interacted with. She describes the process of conducting photo workshops for women from different cultures. She illustrates the women working together, showing intimate connections and how the participants’ individuality shines through with their own style and narrative: a recognition of their uniqueness and worth.
Please download a copy of the e-book at this link.