Reflection – Planning – Action

Its hard to believe we are already a few weeks into the second semester of grad school, where has the time gone? It seems like just a few weeks ago we were all franticly prepping for our first final review..  Despite the pressure and growing anxiety, I know without a doubt I grew, and took tremendous strides under the guidance of our many incredible professors and mentors.  That entire experience has me excited for the remaining three semesters here in the program, and the fire is raging stronger than ever.

My project this semester will be a diverse body of work, and the complete project proposal is now in redevelopment. I do know I want to continue my image making dealing in abandoned places/structures, in conjunction with the observance of the energy left behind.  The absence of the physical but the undeniable presence of lingering energy has long fascinated me as an artist minded individual.

Unoccupied space —-> Occupied Space —–> Unoccupied space

[Remaining fragments of Energy]

I can recall being in somewhat of a remote pine forest here in Ohio as a young child and quite literally experiencing the pain of the silence..  This was my first soiree into what has become a life long encounter.  Since that moment, be it in a location long forgotten or simply vacated moments before, the energy of the space remains, and it is extremely powerful. The consuming visual is similar to that of the complete submersion of one into a pool or lake.. covered, no matter the direction or speed, no escape.  All consuming.

Taking a step back to December 10th for just a moment, Ric reminded us that “there are no breaks in grad school” and I took his statement to heart and acted on it accordingly. For the first three and half weeks of Christmas break, I pushed myself to be out shooting, discovering new intriguing locations, and learning every single night after work. As suspected, the benefits were immense, and I feel my work benefited greatly.  Exploring and experimenting with night-time image making is something that is extremely exciting to me and keeps the drive to create alive. There is nothing better than after a long exposure, seeing that successful image flashing across the screen – I’ve been known to literally yell with joy and excitement at such times..

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Then Honduras roared back into my life. As many of you know, last year I had the distinct honor of becoming involved with Youth Across Borders working with HIV+ youth from Ohio, traveling together to live and work at Montana de Luz (MDL), an orphanage for HIV+ children in southeast rural Honduras, and was lucky enough to return this year.  As I have shared with many of you, this year completely rocked my world, yet again.  The energy, peace, magical simplicity, and everlasting tranquility has infiltrated my soul and I know without a doubt my thesis work has reared its intimidating head. I find myself called to learn Spanish and live there as long term as possible once I am finished with  my masters here at CCAD.

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This year I was asked to create and conduct a photography workshop for the children of MDL, and as one would imagine, children LOVE taking photographs! In a matter of a handful of hours the thirty children collectively snapped over fourteen-hundred images.  Their image making was guided by several different components of the workshop.

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First, we broke up into several different groups and explored the orphanage campus completing a rather detailed photography scavenger hunt, it was a hit and the children came alive with creativity, it was inspiring to see.

Second, we had four informative workshop learning sessions. With the help of an amazing long term volunteer living at MDL, I was able to speak directly to the children in their own language, [thank you so much Lenny].  It was imperative the children have a solid understanding of what was being said so that the intended outcome of empowerment through art expression could become a reality.  I found it a bit challenging to break down the complex world of photography, and keep children engaged and interested, however we were extremely successful in the end. We first discussed and got them thinking about the background (El fondo) of a photograph, and what that can do to change the image. Second we discussed the focus (Enfocar) of a photo, be it the actual focal point, or the importance of making sure the image is in focus. Third, we experimented with lighting (El Alumbrado) and light placement, allowing the children to discover the difference lighting and light angles bring to an image. Lastly, we explored the framing (Enmarcar) of an image, discussing what to leave in the frame and what could be left out.  All four subject matters visibly impacted the children’s images in a positive direction.

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Third, we had hopes of being able to print several images and having a ‘gallery’ show, however to cut down on expenses we elected to have a slide show instead.  This allowed us to use around five-hundred of the images, which made it that much more impactful.  As the slide show unfolded we were lucky enough to have three of our amigos playing guitar, and the viola to accompany the visual,  which was beautiful, but more importantly added an additional layer of art appreciation for the children. In the end the all were elated to see their images projected for everyone to see, and we topped off the night with a delicious s’more bake! Whether it was the creativity or the sugar, the children were on cloud nine – it was inspiring to see the joy art can bring to a young child.

What I plan to unveil at today’s critique is a possible relationship between CCAD and Montana de Luz, the idea being that  artists visit the orphanage and sharing their passion and knowledge with the children in whatever facet of art it may be. The children can harvest their talent and use it as a trade to make a living once they are old enough to leave the orphanage. This idea has just blossomed and is in its infancy, however; I am ecstatic at the mere thought.

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www.montanadeluz.org 

There is so much swirling I know I have forgotten something… I’ll just save it for next post..

Stay Creative

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