Day program clients practiced their photography in the fall of 2023, under the guidance of Jessey Cherne, from Adelante’s marketing team thanks to a Kivitz Innovation Grant.


People with disabilities participating in the Adelante Adventures day program in Albuquerque had the opportunity to expand their artistic work the last several months. Jessey Cherne, a 2023 Kivitz Innovation Grant awardee, shared her knowledge of photography and the darkroom. The project taught clients the basics of camera use, artistic independence, how to tell a story through photography, and the technical skills of the developing process. As a result, they will be showing off their work at an art show, Darkroom Discoveries, on Friday, January 12, 2024.

Developing More than Prints – Behind the Project

This project was the brainchild of Jessey Cherne from Adelante’s marketing team. She applied for a Kivitz Legacy Innovation grant and was awarded funding in April 2023. The grants are intended to improve the lives of Adelante clients and the community while offering professional development opportunities for the grantee. Jessey’s goal was to share her love of photography by teaching people with disabilities how to take good photos and develop them.

First, Jessey purchased cameras and film. Next, she purchased developing equipment, chemicals, and photo paper to transform an office into a darkroom. Photo journeys followed, with trips to scenic areas around central New Mexico, so the people in Adelante’s day program could find inspiration. Finally, each person was trained on the process of developing film and printing their photographs.

Behind the scenes, Jessey and the day program staff have seen skills build. They have witnessed happy smiles when what is captured on film becomes something tangible and beautiful. Cherne said, “The best part of this project was watching clients grow and get excited about the darkroom and photography. I certainly wanted this to be the outcome, but multiple clients exceeded my expectations. Not only what they could accomplish, but their newfound love of film. It was an emotional experience watching them succeed. I am very grateful for this experience and all parties involved.” Though Jessey kicked off this project, lots of people played a role. This effort was also made possible thanks to the support of the program manager and direct support staff from the Adventures day program who transported and worked with the clients alongside Jessey.

Darkroom discoveries photography and mixed media art show invitation

The art show is now an opportunity for a larger audience to share in the fun of these budding photographers.


The Darkroom Discoveries Art Show – Event Details


Friends and supporters of Adelante are invited to join us for the Darkroom Discoveries photography and mixed media art show and reception on Friday, January 12, 2024. Of course, families, disability advocates, and all art lovers are invited, too! The event is taking place at Weems Gallery located at 5935 Wyoming Blvd NE in Albuquerque. Guests can view and purchase photography and artwork from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. The event will also include refreshments.


Adelante appreciates the team at Weems Gallery for hosting the event. Pieces will be available for purchase through the gallery until January 27, 2024.

Pieces can also be purchased online on Weems website.


Continued Opportunities in Photography & the Darkroom


The darkroom was initially located at Adelante’s administrative building in Albuquerque. The grant program, including photography and the darkroom, has been a big success so far. A great example is Gabby, a young woman who took part in this initiative. She came in with no knowledge of photography, other than using a cell phone camera. Now, she can load film into a camera independently, take pictures, and adjust the aperture to capture the images she wants. She also learned to develop her photos from start to finish. She can name all of the darkroom chemicals, parts of the enlarger, and develop her own photos and enlarge them. Reinforcing her learning, she also can walk her peers through the process.

Thankfully, Adelante is finding a more permanent home for the darkroom at the Al Friedman Center on San Mateo. It is home to both the Pathways and Adventures day programs. As a result, it is well suited for getting more people involved. As a result, more of Adelante’s clients will get a chance to participate in 2024. Furthermore, the individuals who have already begun their photography journey will continue to develop their skills.

If you’d like to support these efforts and the art programs at Adelante beyond the art show, or if you cannot make it in person, please consider a donation to these efforts. Thank you for supporting artists with disabilities and Adelante’s work!