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Child's Eye on Beauty

October 05, 1987

In the midst of Skid Row, photographer Jana Taylor finds beauty in the children who live there "like little flowers growing through a crack in the pavement."

In turn, Taylor's American Child Foundation, a nonprofit organization that she started in 1983 to bring the photographic arts to underprivileged kids, shows children how to find beauty in their own lives.

Through her coaching, the latchkey children of Para Los Ninos, a downtown child care and teaching center for abused and neglected children, learn to see life through a lens. Their results, plus Taylor's photos of them and others, will be on display in an exhibit titled "The American Child" Wednesday through Oct. 30 at the City Hall Bridge Gallery in City Hall, sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department.

"In the beginning I asked the students what was beautiful in their home. They answered, 'Nothing.' At the end of the session they said they found beauty in the way the light hit the table, the way the dirt reshapes the pattern on the floor," said the 35-year-old photographer.

"But on the last day of class, everybody was so hesitant about turning their cameras in. They said I told them when they started that the camera was going to be their best friend. So I left all the cameras."

Taylor, a former actress who discovered the camera 10 years ago and who now works as a commercial photographer, enjoys working with children. "There's really a connection with them. . . . They respond to me."

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