In 2007, I began what I thought would be a very short-term substitute teaching assignment. What I thought would last a week or two instead lasted months. I had expected to be rewarded with simply a paycheck and a good feeling, knowing I was doing my part in the rebuilding of post-Katrina New Orleans. What I didn't expect what a lesson in my own feelings of self-worth.
The landscape, the scenery of the schools, was what struck me first. Then it was the negative language and attitudes of the students. Yet, what influenced me the most was the strength. The verbal and visual articulation heard in the halls and shown on the walls seemed representational of what we all want - validation.
The crime in the city of New Orleans had escalated to unthinkable levels when I started this project. Sadly, I began to recognize names in the paper of murder victims and those who were arrested for crimes. However, my experiences in the schools taught me much about myself, and how we all relate to one another. In the grand scheme of things, we were not teacher and student; we were just human, all wanting the same things, peace, love, security, and validation. Thinking of the bold statements on high school walls and the delicate drawings of a small child, I realized that within every problem, lies the solution.
Natasha Sanchez is a photographer, songwriter and performer from New Orleans, Louisiana. She studied History and Cultural Geography at Southeastern Louisiana University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in 1995. After working in the film and music industries in the 1990s, she drifted towards photography, learning through experience by working in darkrooms and photo labs. She often combines her music with her photographs in a one-woman show called "Nattie". Her various mediums provide a well-rounded stage to showcase her interests in the environment in which people live and create for themselves. Her love of the darkroom keeps her shooting film and printing on fiber based papers, as well as experimenting with vintage techniques. Her works have been seen in exhibits around the country, including Louisiana, New York, Texas and Washington.