The end of the second week has us missing our kids and looking forward to the culmination of the project: the final exhibition at el Centro Universitario de las Artes (CUDA), Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez. Our students start school this week, and we do not have regular classes with them. We are using this time to coordinate, prepare, and finalize the major components of the exhibition.
The second week of programming was filled with exciting work with the students, and programming for the border installation and simultaneous exhibitions. We divided our twenty students into “Littles,” and “Bigs,” in order to better connect with and serve their interests.
Littles, like Carla, Carlos, Siria, and Rosa Lizeth (nick-named Rolis by Claudia), all created super-hero projects, in which they wrote stories, and made costumes for their super heroes. Javier made his grandmother, Doña Ramona, into a Super Abuela. Carlos made himself into the superhero Priestman, (pronounced Pryste-e-man), to combat injustice. All of the heroes came from critical analysis of their worlds, and the way they wanted their worlds to be.
Bigs, like Alejandra, Daniel, Nayeli, and Angelica, took the same type of critical analysis to explore their real world heroes. Through conversations about their photographic interests and the heroes around them, they developed bodies of work around the same theme, and deeply explored their own creative voices. Alejandra did a portrait lineage of the women in her family: from her grandmother, to her disappeared mother, to herself, down to her daughter Evelyn. Nayeli used the color red to tie together images of her family, and her hero: her mother Mari.
At the end of the week, we connected our Bigs and Littles with children in El Paso through an introductory FaceTime session.
A little over a week after arriving in El Paso we have finished the first stage of programming. Classes in Juarez and El paso started on Monday after meetings with both of our community partners and visits to possible installation sites on Saturday and Sunday.
The first half of the week in Mexico started slowly as we got to know the kids and as they became more comfortable with the cameras. Moving from camera basics, we went through storytelling and critical thinking exercises where we introduced more formally the idea of justice and heroes that is going to eventually lead to concrete images for installation. Thanks to the donation from Pentax, each kid has been able to take a camera home after class, which has been great for their creative process allowing them to relate photography more directly to their communities. Unfortunately, we had to suspend class on Thursday as we were denied access to the space we had been working in before and on Friday we held the workshop in a new space, with more limitations than the one we had before.
As our group of teachers lead the workshops in Mexico, we have been constantly checking in with the group in El Paso, building on different strategies so the exchange between the two groups can take place. Both the participants in El Paso and Juarez have written letters to their creative partners across the border and will soon meet via Skype before a face-to-face meeting at the installation site, if we manage to get the appropriate permissions.
After considering multiple sites, on Saturday we went to Anapra, which is on the borderline of New Mexico and Juarez with a couple of our partners from Creative Kids. Anapra may be where the final installation will take place. As soon as we got to the site, Border Patrol approached to ask us questions about our presence there. While on site, we took some measurements and were able to envision the installation with more clarity.
As we get closer to launching our project, here is an update on crime in Juarez. Although there appears to be a decrease in total numbers of murder, children and families suffer still from the terror and loss prevalent in this region. Through photography, our hope is that youth will be empowered to share their lives with the public and their peers in El Paso as well as express their visions of justice in their communities.
Pentax has generously donated 20 cameras for our camera library! We received 12 K-r and 8 Optio E70 cameras that our youth will be using to document their lives this summer and in years to come. Thank you, Pentax! (Photo Credit: Claudia Marquez)
20/20 FOTO is ramping up for our project launch in early August. We are fine tuning curriculum and programming details with our community partners. Stay tuned!
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-20/20 FOTO Team
20/20 FOTO is currently featured on CCA’s website as part of a write-up about the three IMPACT Award teams who will be conducting projects this summer.
You can read the article here