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A career in black and white

A former photography teacher at Tarpon Springs High exhibits her work and the work of 11 of her students at the city's cultural center.

By KYLA K. WILSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000


TARPON SPRINGS -- When Kerri Kinports took a photography class at Tarpon Springs High School, she had no idea her class work would be in an exhibit at Tarpon Springs Cultural Center 15 years later.

"I was so excited," said Kinports, 33, of Safety Harbor.

The exhibit, called "Reflections," at the cultural center at 101 Pinellas Point Ave., is a display of the work of photographer and retired teacher Teresa Terry and 11 of her students.

Terry's work consists of 12 black-and-white photos of John Chesnut Park on East Lake Road in Tarpon Springs. Her students' work is of various photos. Reflections is a reference to the water in Lake Tarpon that appears in some of Terry's photographs.

Terry's interest in photography started back in the 1970s, but she developed a love of photography as an art teacher at Tarpon Springs High School from 1982 to 1989.

"When I started teaching, I got really involved. Ever since then I have been taking photographs," she said.

After teaching, Terry became an arts supervisor for the Pinellas County school system. She retired from that position in 1996. She has won many awards for her work in Pinellas County from the Dunedin Fine Arts Center, the Sarasota Visual Art Center, and the Council of Fine Arts Organization. Terry also paints, but says photography is her natural art.

"Photography is a perfect way to be an artist. It's just following a path. You're trying to make everything in that frame important," she said.

Terry's photographs at the exhibit were taken as she walked through John Chesnut Park in the morning. The photos are of the woods in the park and Lake Tarpon. One photo reflects the Tarpon Springs area. In the picture is Lake Tarpon and a sign warning of alligators. Terry said she felt guided as she followed a trail through the park.

"As I walked along I was framing what I saw. I just started clicking," Terry said. "Everything just seemed beautiful, I just kept thinking, "God is so great.' I felt inspired."

Terry decided to include her students in the exhibit because the cultural center is close to Tarpon Springs High School.

"It just seemed like the natural thing to do. There I was a short distance from where I used to teach," she said.

Terry was able to track her students down from resources at the high school and by a student reference book. She was able to find Kinports by going through Tarpon Springs High School's records.

Kinports said that if any teacher had an impact on her, it was Terry.

"She has an extreme amount of respect for her students. I saved all my work from her class, because she meant so much to me," she said.

Kinports said Terry gave her students the freedom all artists need to be great.

"She is extremely talented. I can remember in high school there was no censorship. You could be as creative as you wanted to be. She wasn't just a teacher, she was a true artist," Kinports said.

Kinports' work in the exhibit consists of black-and-white photographs of friends and families in various settings. A set of photos on display shows one of her high school friends playing on a swing. Other students' photos are of nature and buildings.

The exhibit will be on display at the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. weekdays until Aug. 14. Judy LeGath, curator of the cultural center, said she has received positive feedback from the exhibit so far.

"People have enjoyed it a great deal. They have been very impressed. The concept has been received well," LeGath said. "I think the photos are all wonderful; it's a nice showcase."

Terry said she hopes visitors leave the exhibit with an appreciation of nature and Pinellas County parks.

"I think we have a wonderful park system. We are especially fortunate that the land is preserved. It's a real blessing and something we need to respect," Terry said.

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