When we were kids we often had pen pals. The feeling of receiving snail mail with your name on it, and connecting with another kid far away, was a formative part of many of our childhoods. Today, many kids don’t get this same opportunity to express themselves intentionally and at a slow pace. On the contrary, kids are exposed to the instant gratification of social media, smartphones, and self-branding earlier than ever. Instead of sharing their struggles or an emotional journey through their art, kids might be more inclined to create a social-media friendly picture of their lives when they take photos through the lens of a smartphone. The idea of Art Pals is for children from diverse communities to have thoughtful communication through written words on paper, expressing a common theme captured with a film camera.
The Art Pals
Art Pals presents an opportunity for kids to create photographic art in an entirely new way – slowly, intentionally, and with purpose, while connecting to friends in another place and context. Participating kids will come from communities in Miami and Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico our Mundo Art member has partnered with Proyecto Nangoba and Idea Hecho Realidad, who will be responsible organizing the children and families involved in the island. They will receive an introductory course in photography explaining basic principals, as well as a disposable camera to capture the chosen theme. Every time they go out and shoot, they will write about how they feel and why they took the particular photograph’s in that moment. They will also provide constructive criticism to their program peers, an opportunity to ask questions, comment and interpret the received image, learning not only to create new art but also to absorb and consume the art of others. Weekly supervision from our mentors will be honored in order to assure continuation of project. This interchange of images and words is an opportunity for children to connect through pen, paper and photo.
At the completion of the project, there will be two parallel installations of participating student photography and text – one in Miami and one in San Juan, with chosen photographs and letters of all of the art pals displayed connected through the thread of a common theme. Creating a simultaneous opening in order for a video connection between Art Pals to communicate through live video on opening day. We aspire to have 2-3 written mail communications between the children. An ultimate goal would be to have an interchange of children, where Miami children would travel to Puerto Rico for their opening and those children from Puerto Rico would travel to Miami.
Parental and Family Involvement
It is imperative that the families of the children participating in Art Pals understand the involvement of the child in the program. Family encouragement and supervision are an important factor as children have to go out of their comfort zone of their home and take to the streets to photograph their vision. If a parent feels the child needs company to photograph, it is the responsibility of the parent to assure the child is not alone in an unfavorable situation.
Our goal is to begin this project with 10-12 children, half from Miami, the other half from Puerto Rico. In Miami, Mundo Art will be responsible for supervising the continuation of the project as well as keeping constant communication with the children and families involved.
HOW do we START?
Phase I – Goals
2 encounters with professional teacher
2 correspondence written mail
1 correspondence written mail with photograph
Phase I– Beginning Schedule (Preliminary, expect to be adjusted)
-Miami and Puerto Rico team need to each find 5-6 children who are willing to participate.
-Parents need to sign “Involvement Letter,” assuring help in their children’s involvement.
-Equipment, materials and lesson plan to be finalized.
-Same schedule and program to be copied in Miami, prior to trip. Travel to Puerto Rico will be with first correspondence in hand!
-Professional Photographer and Teacher to travel to Puerto Rico, meet with Art Pals team.
-Organize two encounters with children in this trip.
-Introduction to program, introduction to photography, introduction to disposable film camera, practice shooting. First correspondence written. Photo portraits taken.
-First time using camera’s and capturing moments.
-Camera’s film to be developed 24 hours
-Continuation of Photography principals based on photographs taken, introduction how to talk about a photograph, introduction of Art Pals.
-Prints are shown. Short critique of images and program plan for next months to be presented
-First correspondence takes place, introduction of children and initial feelings about project.
-Disposable camera’s are given to children
-Parents sign Involvement Letter
-Children photograph theme for entire month.
-One letter a week is written to Art Pals. Text is mandatory when back home after taking pictures. Another text will be sent after they see their work.
-One correspondence to be sent to Art Pal, only in writing, concerning how they feel about taken photos with a a disposable camera.
-Cameras collected, film is developed, prints are received.
-Second Mail with written text and first pictures are sent.
-Text is written in response to mail received.
-Sent back before year is out.
Phase II– (in process)
Phase III (TBD) – Photography Show