Nine François taught photography for 20+ years and has been exhibiting her work since 1990. She believes that photography is an excellent tool for connecting people and sharing stories. As Nine continues practicing her art, she remains committed to using photography to give back to her community. She supports worthy causes by:
- partnering with non-profit organizations
- creating community-building photography projects for diverse groups
- connecting different cultures through photography exhibitions
Supporting Conservation: Giving Back Through Art
In photographing the Animalia series, Nine has become acutely aware of the fragile state of existence of many of the world’s animal populations and of the precarious eco-systems that sustain them. It’s important to her that art contributes to preserving and improving the planet and its inhabitants.
One model Nine uses for giving back is to partner each exhibition of the Animalia series with a local conservation-oriented non-profit organization. At opening night of the exhibition, a representative of the partner organization is invited to speak about its mission and current projects. The organization is then supported through auctioned Animalia prints, a percentage of sales, or other financial arrangements.
Recent beneficiaries include:
- International Animal Rescue, NYC
- Montana Raptor Center, Bozeman, MT
- Friends of Animals, Park City, UT
- Wolfwood Refuge, Durango, CO
- Austin Wildlife Rescue, Austin, TX
Please contact Nine if you’d like to partner for a future exhibition.
Nine is passionate about using photography as a means for encouraging young people to observe, ask questions, develop their voices and articulate ideas. To this end, she is frequently working on projects that in some configuration involve taking pictures, telling stories and building community. These projects typically end with a photo exhibit and literary reading where the young creators get to share their work with the public. The sense of accomplishment, empowerment and valor that these young people experience at these events is positively goose-bumpy to witness.
Some examples of these projects:
2020: For the Record: Anthology 2020, published by Austin Bat Cave
In this workshop, the women learned to use digital cameras to photo-document their family, friends and new homes in Austin, TX. They then wrote about their photographs as a way to further express their experiences of transitioning to American life.
The workshop culminated in the photographic exhibition, Home Stories: A Celebration of Community and Identity, held at Prizer Gallery in Austin, TX, and also in the publication of the women’s stories in Austin Bat Cave’s For the Record: Anthology 2020. (Note: ABC refers to this as “Anthology Number 12 – For the Record“)
2017-2013: Neighborhood Stories Project (NSP)
This neighborhood interviewing project started as a spin-off activity to the larger effort of constructing the Kealing Middle School Gardens spearheaded by Nine and another school parent.
For NSP, Nine paired her university photography students with Kealing’s journalism class to guide the middle-schoolers through the process of interviewing and photographing community elders. The goal was to document stories of residents who had lived in the neighborhood for 50 years or more. Kealing students wrote profiles and took portraits of the interviewees as part of their journalism class workload.
Each semester’s interviews were thematically different, with the inaugural batch focusing on the historic cultivation of food and gardens in the area. Subsequent themes included the changing demographics of the neighborhood, local activism, the history of Kealing Middle School, and achieving educational success.
These historical profiles were then beautifully printed as posters that were displayed throughout the Kealing campus and again at the community-wide Mayfest Picnic celebrating the completion of the Kealing Gardens in 2016. The interviewed elders were invited to the picnic as guest speakers and were presented with copies of their profiles. A subsequent set was given to the Austin History Center for preservation thus archiving the early work of these young authors.
2011-2009: Books for Kids by Kids
Nine uses her abilities as teacher and artist to help young people create theme-specific, self-published books through Blurb.com that are entirely written, photographed and illustrated by the young authors. These book-making projects are easily incorporated into Language Arts school curricula.
In each of these book projects, participants learn to introduce themselves, conduct interviews, and make photographic portraits. They learn to use photography expressively for visual storytelling and to write compelling stories for publication. And finally, they read their stories at public book-signing events and field audience questions during the Q&A sessions that follow.
Each participant receives a personal copy of the published book while additional copies are placed in the student’s school library.
2007: Stepping Stones: The Pan Am Report
Sponsored by the Texas Photographic Society, Nine initiated the creation of Stepping Stones, an after-school community outreach program using photography and writing as tools for personal exploration.
The program was initiated at the Oswaldo A.B. Cantu Pan American Recreation Center as a youth enrichment activity. Eight 11 – 18 year-olds produced a neighborhood newsletter, The Pan Am Report, where they interviewed the people who live in their community.
The newsletter was distributed throughout the neighborhood and neighbors, friends and family were invited to a public reading and photography exhibition at the Pan Am Rec Center.
Cross Cultural Exhibitions
Being of bi-national origin, Nine François is naturally drawn to opportunities involving cross-cultural exchanges. She was able to foster international community-building by coordinating exhibitions between Texas and French photographers.
2003 – Exposure: Photographs from Central Texas and Southern France
This touring exhibit by French and Texas photographers traveled to Austin, Houston and San Antonio. The French photographers were hosted by their American counterparts for a week of social and cultural events.
2002 – Regards Croisés
In partnership with La Fontaine Obscure, a photographic society seated in Aix-en-Provence, France, Nine coordinated an exhibition there of Texas and French photographers that included portfolio reviews, presentations and social events.
2000 – The Image Construed
In coordination with the Texas Photographic Society Nine curated an exhibition of Texas photographers in Arles, France during Les Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie.