Wednesday, October 28, 2009

TONIGHT at Madhatter's: Juicebox Photography Opening!

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Join photographer Mari Hernandez and the students of El Placazo as they celebrate the success of the first ever Juicebox Photography Workshop and Exhibition!
There will be music, food, and the chill ambiance of Madhatter's TeaHouse--
you don't want to miss out on this!!

Here's more from photographer/mentor Mari Hernandez about working with the kids:

"To say I work with the students at San Anto wouldn’t be completely true.  I don’t really work with them, we sort of hang out. You could say that I mentor them, but I think it’s more of a give and take relationship, because they teach me as much as I teach them. I have a hard time seeing myself as an authority figure in their lives, because I think the idea of another authority figure telling them what to and not to do might be discouraging.  So I see them as my friends, as little adults that I truly care about and love. Due to that, I worry about them, I wonder if they’re okay, I want to know what’s going on in their lives, and I hope to be able to help them if they ever needed it. I like to offer praise, and encourage them to go for their dreams, even if they may seem far off. I have faith in them. I like to have conversations with them about their favorite metal band, maybe watch a youtube music video that I have a hard time sitting through. I want all the details to the movie they say they are going to make, and that they gave the part of the butler to their dad leaves us in hysterics. I like it when they say they will teach me how to dance, and we waltz in the cozy space that is San Anto. I love it when I see the kid, who on the outside may look tough, laughing and smiling so big that I tear up, and wonder when I became such a big softy.

Access to art is limited for some, and I don’t completely understand why.  It’s a huge misconception to think art can only be produced by a certain type of people, from a certain place, and must be validated by some unknown. Everyone should have access to a creative outlet. In understanding this, I see the students at San Anto as being lucky. Creative people surround them, include them, and teach them. We show them how to engage their creativity in ways that empower them. To empower these students is my main goal, regardless of what form it may come in. That is why I hang out with them, why I share with them. A lot of the time minorities get the short end of the stick, and I want to make sure that’s not the case with them.

We live in a capitalistic society, where our desire for tangible things sometimes takes the front seat. Advertising is geared at youth, preying on them, making them think they must have the next digital-megablitz-talking-gadget, while at the same time our environment is crumbling around us.  I wanted to communicate to the students the theory of DIY and reuse in a way that would be interesting for them.  In making the juice box cameras, I feel as if all of the things I wished to say was communicated. They can make something by their own hand, from recycled materials, which can be of use, and they didn’t have to buy it. They can take a photograph that details they’re creative and artistic side. They were able to sit down, follow instruction, successfully produce, and walk away with a newfound knowledge, without breaking a sweat. That sounds empowering to me.

The mentors of our community have a big job. We are responsible for getting rid of the bad, and securing the good of our community, in order to pass it on to the next generation. I hope one of these days the students fully realize that, and they will participate in the same cycle of mentoring."

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