Art’s value is in more than its aesthetic quality. While art is pleasing to the eye, it also gives its creators an opportunity for self-expression and a chance to highlight what they love and embrace about their communities.
On June 8, Project Istwa, a nonprofit that conducts photography workshops with children in Haiti, hosted their second annual exhibition in New York City titled, “Sa Se Lavi: Photographs and Stories by Haiti’s Youth.” The exhibition featured 87 photographs from children from Port Salut, Jacmel, Hinche, Miragoâne and Jérémie. Hosted by celebrity photographer Marc Baptiste, the exhibition featured a special reception and silent auction.
“You don’t want somebody else to tell you, your reality,” Baptiste
said. “Show me your reality – that’s what Project Istwa is [about]…embellish or appreciate what you have. That’s the beauty of life.”
Project Istwa conducts one-week workshops for Haitian youths. Their aim is to teach these children how to use photography as a means for self-expression and for telling their stories. The participants are given digital cameras and sent out to their communities to document their surrounding through a camera lens. Proceeds from the silent auction will go to funding their July workshops.
The participants of Project Istwa take these photos not only to share with their communities, but also to share with the world, Devin Madden, one of the original facilitators who volunteers with the organization. The pictures and their accompanying stories are powerful communication tools.
“We have seen firsthand how transformative photovoice has been for the Project Istwa participants. Photography and narrative are outlets for our participants to express their thoughts and opinions.
We are thrilled to be able to share their work with the New York community,” Linda Thélémaque, one of Project Istwa’s founders, said.
“I think it’s a beautiful project, everybody should be involved,” Baptiste said. “It will inspire the next generation to take charge of their own lives. It’s not just about photography, it’s teaching about life.”
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