DSTL Arts pays us a visit for a bit of creative writing

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By Luis Antonio Pichardo, Founder, Executive Director; DSTL Arts

When Eric of Las Fotos Project proposed that DSTL Arts and Las Fotos Project team up to offer a creative writing workshop for his Las Fotos Project students, I took it as a great opportunity to build the creative community that DSTL Arts aspires to be a part of. DSTL Arts is a nonprofit arts mentorship organization whose mission is to inspire, teach, and hire creative at-risk youth ages 16–21. By offering this creative writing workshop in conjunction with Las Fotos Project, we were making good on our mission of inspiring and teaching creative at-risk youth.

The creative writing workshop was a simple one. It involved taking a static image and thinking of the experience that this image can illicit. By using samples of my own writing, some of it published in poetry journals, we explored the various senses we use to immerse ourselves in an experience. From taste, touch, and sight, to more esoteric senses, such as mood and drama, we analyzed the images created by the Las Fotos Project girls, and the memory those images created in their minds. Lists of sensory details were drafted and used to craft poems that reflected various aspects of their lives, not just the images the young ladies created. Continue reading

Core Values in Action

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By Julisa Morales

Using photography as the medium, individuality, optimism, creativity, persistence and learning are the core values of Las Fotos Project (LFP).

_DSC9714Melinda Madrigal is a 12-year old, seventh grader, who chose to join LFP after learning about the experience she would gain, is in her second semester with LFP. She is grateful for the technical aspects of the photography process she has learned, including “how to Photoshop my pictures…and make them into a collage.”

However, one of the major lessons she learned last semester was the social issue that surrounds her community: “Bullying and how it can lead to suicidal thoughts.” For her exhibit, last semester, Melinda researched the triggers, methods and effects of bullying, including suicide and the effects suicide has on pets. “I learned that their pets may also die of depression because their owners committed suicide.” Continue reading

Exploring Urban Planning

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By Carol Martinez, age 12 – Boyle Heights, CA

During my Las Fotos Project class on Saturday we had the opportunity to go to Boyle Heights City Hall and take part in an urban planning activity. We were in a conference room that had a big map of Boyle Heights. There were girls and mentors from Las Fotos Project, along with a couple of high school students.  At the center of a table, there was a bubble map and we filled it out with what we thought urban planners did.

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Feliz cumpleaños, Señor César Chávez!

Today, we celebrate César Chávez’s passion for social justice and his devotion to improving the lives of working people.  Learn more about this inspirational hero here. Si se puede!

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Las Fotos Project on KPCC’s “Take Two”

LFP Founder, Eric, and LFP student photographers, Brenda, Gaby, Rosa, and Kathy, were interviewed on KPCC last week. Read the brief intro below and press play to hear the full interview

Picture This: Las Fotos Project trains girls to document LA through photography : When 18-year-old Brenda Magallanes set out to document her family in East L.A., she began by taking photographs of her young cousin who has Down syndrome. “When the time came to choosing a topic,” she said to Take Two. “I wanted to speak to my community through my work and let them know that being different is okay and it’s something that should be accepted into our community.” Brenda is part of a program called Las Fotos Project that trains and mentors girls to document their lives through photography. The young students have produced some striking images that show their lives through their own eyes. And they’ve taken on some interesting topics. The program’s founder Eric Ibarra joins the show to discuss the program.”

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Movie Night at Las Fotos Project: God Grew Tired of Us, The Story of Lost Boys of Sudan

Las Fotos Project Movie Night God Grew Tired of Us

Review by Pedro Joel Espinosa and  Cristina González

lasfotosproject_godgrewtiredofus_9It’s the second Saturday evening of the month in Boyle Heights, do you know where your teenage Salvadoran hija or late-twenties Mexican tio is at? That’s right they’re bonding, networking, and getting their critical thinking skills on at Las Fotos Project’s Movie Night!

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Art Appreciation Field Trip: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

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By Brenda, age 17

During the trip to LACMA I really liked being exposed to the different types of photography and the variety of ways you can photograph your subject. The work displayed in the exhibit was somewhat new to me and I liked learning about the different photographers and the techniques they used or experimented on. I really liked seeing more of the older photographs and watching photography progress over time.

This inspired me to try new methods of photography and not be afraid to experiment with my subjects and the way I want to convey a message through photography. I see this as an opportunity to experiment with the photos I take during this semester with Las Fotos Project.

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Art Appreciation Field Trip: M + B Gallery / Alex Prager

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By Victoria, age 17

At the end of last month, I had the opportunity to attend a Los Fotos Project field trip to go see an exhibit by Alex Prager called “Faces in the Crowd” at M+B gallery.

When we got to the exhibit the first thing that caught my eye was the massive prints on the wall. These enlargements were full of vibrant colors. In each of these enlargements there was a crowd of people each doing something different. It wasn’t one of those group pictures where someone goes unnoticed.

You could clearly see every crease on a person’s face, the emotion they wore, and exactly what each person was doing. What made each person stand out was the clothes they wore, or the makeup they had on. Her photographs had reminded me of “Where’s Waldo” When I had mentioned this at the exhibit, one of the women working at the gallery had told me that many people have also made this comparison as well.

Her photographs drew me in because unlike real life I never really noticed the different people in a crowd, but while viewing these photographs I was able to learn to appreciate a crowd as a whole, and in detail as depicted in the After attending this field trip and finding out more about Alex Prager, I continue to be inspired to discover my own style. Now, each time I take a picture, I find myself staging it to fit my vision of what I want to be portrayed just like she did.

If I had had the opportunity to meet Alex Prager, I would tell her how appreciative I am of her work and how she and her work have inspired me in many different levels as a photographer.

Latina Spotlight on Las Fotos Project’s Dianna Martinez

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“I became involved with Las Fotos Project in early spring. There was a training I was going to begin taking with the East Los Angeles Women’s Center called the Young Women Development Training, which covers issues on domestic violence, misogyny, gender identity, and how to be resourceful by being able to help others who are in need of guidance. ELAWC collaborated with Las Fotos Project to bring in a creative arts aspect to the training. We had to develop and photograph a theme that was relevant to what we were covering during our sessions. At the end of it all, we participated in a photo exhibit, then more opportunities arose and I decided to get even more involved with Las Fotos Project.” Click here to read the full article here.

A Full Circle Effect

_DSC5090Since its inception, Las Fotos Project has mentored many girls who have gone on to graduate high school, attend college and embark in various life paths.

_DSC4940One of these young ladies is Dianna Martinez, who was an LFP student in Spring 2013. LFP helped Dianna strengthen her photography skills which she had previously simply considered a hobby but today identifies as part of who she is. In fact, after completing a semester with LFP, Dianna graduated high school and is currently a student at CalState LA; but, most importantly, Dianna chose to continue her involvement with LFP by choosing to volunteer as a mentor.

“As a student, I never imagined that I would be having students” myself; but, after having asked for the opportunity to mentor, she has gained confidence in her leadership abilities. “I am now the one who has to speak in front of the students and guide them along the photography process. As much as speaking sounds easy, it isn’t. It’s a skill developed.” Just as Dianna has challenged herself by taking on a leadership role, she encourages her students to do the same with their photography.

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One of those students is 15 year old, Bridgette Alcaraz, whose goal is to  study aerospace engineering and attend the University of Southern California. Through LFP, Bridgette has learned the technicalities of photography, which have helped her capture meaningful images of her community through a project called “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Boyle Heights”.

For Bridgette, “being a Latina photographer means opening new doors for girls” who are interested in learning and experiencing new subjects. In fact, she “highly recommends this program to girls who want to get to know the true meaning of photography.” From her personal experience with LFP, Bridgette has developed a good relationship with her mentors, who she identifies as “great and wonderful people!”

_DSC5060Having been a student herself, Dianna understands the importance of building strong mentor-student bonds. So, she has “created a friendship where we can talk and have fun but, at the same time, when it’s time to work, it gets done.” Through her time as a student of LFP, she gained enough experience, self-confidence and passion for the photography process as an empowerment tool. “I am now able to manage my own group of students and run with the program.”

Dianna hopes that her students appreciate the value of LFP and what it offers the community. “It is another branch in creating art through photography. Programs like these should be taken advantage of because you do not only grow individually, but also with the movement. What starts as an idea can be developed to become a reality and serve the community to become a greater one.”

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