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.
As photographers, the Las Fotos Project students clearly were developing a voice through visual media, but the exercise of reflecting on what those images meant to them led to interesting reflections on hope, family, and living in Los Angeles. Community is important, especially for artists, and this simple creative writing workshop seemed to reinforce the Las Fotos Project students’ idea of community and place. By far, the most fulfilling moment of the workshop came in the form of the read-aloud.
Each student participated in reading and sharing constructive criticism of the poetry with the whole group with little to no reservation.The mentors participated in this as well. The solidarity they all showed was exquisite and appropriate for the bond all of these young women share. Las Fotos Project is truly a positive community for creative young women, and DSTL Arts is very happy to have been able to share that with Las Fotos Project for at least one day.
We look forward to more collaboration between us at DSTL Arts and Las Fotos Project in the future. Here’s to the creative youth community of LA!