Tuesday, December 12, 2006

OJOS nuevos photography exhibition at UARCIS

After 10 weeks of meeting with the six girls of OJOS nuevos we had our first exhibition last night at the Universidad ARCIS in Santiago's center. We had prepared posters, invitations, and emails, but I still was nervous about who would be able to attend the show. I wanted the girls to feel important, to feel supported, and to celebrate their work with a full opening party, but due to everyone's busy schedules and the size of this city, I wasn't sure who could come. Fortunately the show exceeded my-- and my girl's-- expectations.

The first group to arrive included about 10 children with a couple of volunteers from the community center Domingo Savio. More volunteers kept filing in, and when my class showed up, they were accompanied by at least a dozen other girls from my hogar as well as the director, her assistant, and the subdirector. With additional guests from the university, the small, formal room nearly filled up. I sat at the table in the front in between the director of the communications department and the director of the university, a large projection screen behind us. Once everyone had settled into their chairs, the presentation began with a slideshow of the girl's work. A surprise to all of us, including me, the short movie placed the girl's photographs to music. In of itself, it would have still been a powerful piece. But the fact that for so many classes I, too, had begun the hour with a slideshow of photography from around the world, this slideshow seemed to validate the girl's work in a really exciting way for them. From the front of the room I watched as the light from the screen illuminated everyone's faces. In between each photo we plunged back into complete darkness, and as the next photo revealed itself I witnessed everyone's reactions. I am very happy that many girl's not in the class but from the hogar were able to come last night, as many of them have connections to some of the photographs.

Upon the closing of the slideshow, the director of the University ARCIS, Carlos Margotta Trincado, addressed the room. Unfortunately I could not understand the whole speech at the time (thank you Nicole for helping to translate afterwards) but I know that after speaking with him during the reception, we are both mutually pleased to have begun a relationship between our organizations and we look forward to working together in the future. The Universidad ARCIS is located literally around the corner from my hogar. I discovered it simply because I walk past it every day after lunch as I take the girls back to school. A university that focuses on both art and social sciences, it is a near perfect match for projects such as OJOS nuevos, and I'm very excited to have found support here in Santiago.

While I did practice my speech before the event, I still stumbled over pronunciation. I can't wait for the day when I can open my mouth and simply express myself clearly and distinctly. I feel like I have the same word bank that I use all the time, and it's so limiting. Luckily one of our social workers helped me write the speech, so even though I may not have pronounced everything with complete accuracy, at least the words themselves were intelligently written. Unfortunately there had been a problem earlier in the day, and one of my students could not attend the exhibit. But after my speech I then called each of the 5 girlsto the front of the room where I handed her my present, and the director of the university handed her a poster from the show rolled up like a diploma. I don't have daughters, and I am not even related to these girls, but I will say that I seeing them look proud and happy made me feel overwhlemingly proud and happy as well. Each girl received a collage of four of their photos, as shown above. The photo is attached to a piece of wood which will help it stay intact, as the girls move around so much. They will also receive a disc with all of their photos as well as a copy of the portrait I had taken of them for the show.

We moved into an indoor courtyard that had a transparent ceiling and trees in the center. The girl's photographs hung suspended as you can see above. The university provided us with juice and cookies, a big plus for the 25+ kids in attendance. We took group photos, and I opened my gift from the university, a book on art and politics. My girls proudly talked about their work to the other volunteers and guests, and we all enjoyed ourselves. Their photos will stay on display in the university until the end of the week (UARCIS, 53 Libertad). In addition, I will be placing them all online soon so those outside of Santiago can see what they have accomplished. Thank you to everyone who helped with OJOS nuevos, and I can't wait to start planning the next class.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Congratulations! It seems like a wonderful experience for everyone; keep up the fantastic work.