Since 2008, AoS has partnered with VIMAU Productions (Esteli, Nicaragua) to produce over 10 documentary films that cover a widerange of social and cultural issues. The projects have engaged dozens of community groups and youth through the filmmaking process and produced works that have been shown internationally at film festivals and on Nicaraguan television. From July 17-Sep 7 2013, VIMAU’s founders Jonys Díaz and Eddy Avendaño will be in Baltimore, MD for an artist residency working with Latino immigrant youth from Mi Espacio and Casa Maryland at the Creative Alliance on a media project called "De Donde Sean" (No Matter Where You’re From).
So here are a few of my sketchbook pages. This is a lady reading a newspaper in Granada.
This is from the cultural center in Esteli. We're interviewing the director, with Eddie in the foreground. Eddie and the VIMOU people thought it was funny.
This is my breakthrough moment drawing. While everyone else was interviewing people, I was mobbed by kids and I drew their portraits.
Our path to the waterfall. The farmer woman and her little son are herding cows by making "duck, duck duck" noises
Now we're in Limay. Coco, my host family's maid who raised me when my host mom left for Managua, made me tortillas every morning. This is the view from the courtyard looking into the kitchen, where Coco's washing dishes on the left, there are beans stewing in a pot, and the radio's playing.
Limay cultural center. Katherine's teaching the kids typography and they're really into it. No one even noticed me drawing
This is in front of Casa Baltimore Limay, when we were waiting for the bus back to Esteli. There's a guy on a horse.
Completely New Things That This City Kid Did in Limay:
-Ride a horse bareback
-Milk a cow (very poorly, how embarrassing!)
-Wake up to the sound of roosters crowing (rarely pleasant, but new nonetheless!)
-Sit on a bull
-Make tortillas by hand
-Watch chickens be killed (and later eat them)
-Wash my clothes on a washboard
-Swim in a lovely river
-Learn the art of marmollina sculpture
-Eat atol, a delicious creamy mixture of pureed corn, sugar, cinnamon, milk and a pinch of salt
-Sleep in a hammock
-Paint a mural
-Teach in Spanish
-Reflect in a beautiful cemetery
-Hear the sound of little voices scream, "Gringa, gringa!" when they happily saw me approaching their house with my camera. Patrick, their host brother, was their beloved "Gringo". I was shocked on the last day when Itzamar called me by my first name. I had no idea she knew what it was.
...and the list goes on. I had a great time in Limay and I could have stayed there for much longer than our ten days. I loved the pace of life and the people that I met there. The marmollina studio was easily my favorite place and my host family was lovely. I felt very at home staying in their house and I communicated with them to the best of my ability. Somehow we managed to convey our shared frustrations with immigration and healthcare in the United States among other things. I guess parallel political and social views transcend language barriers just like art. I hope to go back to Limay to continue my personal work. I grew up in a small neighborhood where everyone knew everyone's business, so I smiled quietly when I wasn't sure where my host mother was and Wilfredo told me she was visiting her father. How did he know that?! Or on the other hand, how would he NOT know that?! Small towns with great people, gotta love 'em.
I always swore I would never be a teacher, but somehow I keep getting wrangled into it. During our time in Limay, we each led an hour-long workshop on the topic of our choice. I chose typography, and an activity where the participants would use a grid to create letterforms, an assignment I did in one of my classes. I love typography and everything related to design, but I am aware that people don't share the same fascination as I do. I was worried that an hour of filling in squares to write something would bore or frustrate the kids, but I was wrong. They took to it like fish to water. A few of the older participants took it to the next level and made great pieces. I hope my workshop sparked an interest in design that was sparked in me.
It takes everything I’ve got to keep the surge of tears in
my lungs as the pig’s bawls ricochet off every corrugated metal wall. A
sensory weapon more than a cry for help, the swine scream boils my heart. How
am I letting this creature suffer so?
The weapon of untruth: this pig’s temper tantrum is all for
a little injection behind the earhandle. A shot of vitamins for mas grande.
Keep those porky pants on til December, Babe.
The real death rattle stared me in the face today, and my
camera stared right back. In three moments of the faultiest ceremony, three
weres became weren’ts. In just one simple instant animal became corpse with
nothing more than a few twitches of flicked blood and the tightened face
muscles of four foreigners. Now meat, now flesh, now object: no longer a
problem – and that is the problem. How can a transition so monumental in my
life, be, nothing? And my only answer is the clicking of the shutter,
documenting the would-be intimacy of life-loss and the desecration of their
I feel no rush of emotion as I did when two boys tore at
each other’s shirts in fury, or when the dog tumbled in the air, yanked upwards
by its hind leg. Minute events brimming with feeling. But the somber murder
photo shoot’s lack is what plunged a slow burning in my stomach.
I sit in my host family´s living room, and a chicken wanders across the floor, pooping in the middle of the tile. From my seat in a rocking chair, I can see a tree full of young yellow coconuts that the family will later eat, a rooster about to crow, a pig tied up in a pen, being fattened for Christmas barbecues. I switch my seat to a hammock, which sways in a breeze that flows through the gazebo-type room. I think about how different, how controlled American homes seem. Their living rooms are carefully air-conditioned, animals limited to a small number of cats and/or dogs, windows shut to keep out insects, everything set up to maintain order and silence inside the house. It will be strange when I get back to sit in my house and feel the cool silence, to hear no roosters or horses. Here in Limay, I think constantly about what I miss, the things I´ll have when I get back home. But what I need to remember now is what I won´t have when I get there, the juice I won´t have from fresh fruit, the bicycles I won´t see laden with excited children, and especially the chickens I won´t see walking through the living room.