Juntos: Creating Ties

Sustainable development through meaningful partnerships.

Art Initiative

Our Pittsburgh-Nicaragua photography exchange attempts to cross international borders by connecting two communities despite barriers of language, culture, and geography. Working with children in Pittsburgh and with a community school in Rosa Grande, Nicaragua, we hold art and photography workshops with a goal of engaging both groups in the same global dialogue.

Photography is used as a tool to address general issues of community, family, and childhood. The children take pictures, tell stories about their images, and share their life experiences both visually and through text. These lessons of connection and global understanding are then made accessible to both communities through gallery shows of the resulting photos.

This participatory approach has three main goals: to enable individuals to record and reflect upon their own community and experiences; to promote critical dialogue within individual communities through large and small group reflection upon photographs resulting from the project; and to create cross-cultural ties between Nicaragua and Pittsburgh, encouraging individuals to reflect upon the similarities and differences between communities.

2014 – 2015

In February, we held an art gallery, called “Snap Together: A Cultural Exchange Through Children’s Photography,” in the College of Fine Arts building, where we displayed pictures taken by children in Pittsburgh and Nicaragua.

2012 – 2013

We are compiling a book of Pittsburgh and Rosa Grande work made during our art workshops that will be given to libraries in both places.

Our workshops this year will focus on the theme of geography and use digital media, specifically video. Juntos is also seeking a new Pittsburgh community partner for this year, so please contact us if your organization is interested.

2011 – 2012

In February, we held a month-long photography exhibition and series of art workshops at Assemble Gallery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The exhibition opening was part of the Unblurred gallery crawl and hundreds of people attended. All of the featured photographs were by students from Rosa Grande and the Homewood YMCA in Pittsburgh. Participatory art activities drew upon the themes present in the student’s photography: family, celebration, communication, and dreams. Our event was also an opportunity to educate the public about Nicaraguan history and culture.

In May, we held three art workshops in Rosa Grande that paralleled the ones we held at Assemble. At the end of our trip, we exhibited the resulting art so that community could view student work.

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2010 – 2011

We held a series photography workshops at the Homewood YMCA during the spring, which entailed giving each student their own digital camera and a weekly assignment. At each session, we would review the students’ independent work and then introduce new concepts and techniques.

In Rosa Grande, we worked with the school director to select a small group of students to conduct similar photography workshops. Additionally, we worked with a larger group of students to teach still-life drawing techniques and the use of natural materials, such as leaves and sticks, to create imagery. We then used a portable printer to print the student’s photos and held an exhibition open to the community.

2009 – 2010

In our former partner community of Amparo, we helped children paint a mural for their school. This was Juntos’ first art activity, and its success inspired subsequent art workshops and projects.