Wednesday: Portraits and Memory

You can read Arnie Aprill's write-up of today (with lots of photos) here

Starting with Reflection

We wrote our reflections on another note card (as we did yesterday) and turned them in. Here's the thinking routine we used:


3 applications (ways you can apply what you learned)

2 questions

1 metaphor or analogy

Workshop 1: self-portraits

Cynthia and Ana Paula led this. They started with a slide show of professional models of black-and-white photo portraits, from photographers including Flor Garduño, Luis Rosales Palma, Irving Penn, and Francesca Woodman). As we looked at each photo, they elicited characteristics of the photos from us, and wrote them down on the whiteboard. Cynthia and Ana Paula also took time to give quick, impromptu lecture on things like the rule of thirds. 

There were lots of photos, but they were fascinating - I didn't want it to end!

We formed groups of three. Each person "directed" their own portrait, but the other two were there both to take photographs (on smartphones) and to (literally) offer different perspectives. The only directive was that the photos should be black and white. Cynthia suggested using the "noir' filter on the iPhone, but this was a suggestion.

Side comment: there's a fundamental difference between a "filter" and a "template". Both can make your work look more professional and real, but a template reduces your agency and creative freedom, (I'm thinking especially of those "movie trailer" templates in iMovie) whereas a filter expands your options rather than limiting them.

I knew I wanted to be in a tree for my photo, but that was all I knew. Here are some of the photos that my partners, Claire and Maritza took, that I was considering:

And here's the one that I ultimately chose:

The next day, the facilitators had printed out our portraits and put them on the wall of the gallery space. Here's how it looked:

Workshop 2: collaborative mind map

1. Two students (prompted in advance, neither one dominant in most full-group discussions) read the passage from 100 Years of Solitude in which the villagers become insomniac and start losing their memories. To combat this, they start labelling EVERYTHING.

2. Individually, go through the text and select a word or a phrase of no more than 7-8 words

3. Write the word/phrase in the middle of a blank piece of paper, using a colored marker. 

4. Pass it to the left, add to the conversation, and keep passing (we did this in our own time, not being told by Kurt when to pass).

5. On your new paper you can...

  1. respond directly to the word or phrase
  2. elaborate on others' ideas
  3. ask questions
  4. respond to someone else's ideas
  5. add a connection to the reading, or the book
  6. add a connection to another book, film, etc.
  7. Make a connection to your own life

6. When we stop, read all the comments on your paper, and add one comment.

7. Choose a really interesting contribution to yours. Share it with your neighbor. 

Here's a scan of my mind map:

Workshop 3: labelling our world (after Macondo)

This workshop, led by Cynthia, started from the same excerpt as the one we used in Workshop 2, as well as from Ruth Krauss's book of definitions as given by five-year-olds, A Hole is to Dig.

After reading a few of the definitions from A Hole is to Dig, Cynthia demonstrated what she wanted us to do by sticking two neon-colored note cards on the wall. The first said Wall/Pared, and the second said "To lean against."

We took six notecards each, and went all over the building, labelling objects and providing their definitions, in the style of A Hole is to Dig. We were encouraged both to label objects with definitions, and add definitions to already-labelled objects. 

After we'd really gone to town, we did a brief gallery walk, writing down objects and definitions we really liked. 

Here are a couple photos of our labels:

At this point, we came back to the tables, and in groups, we shared our definitions and used the words we'd written down to create a new text on a big sheet of paper (with the rule that we couldn't add words, but we could rearrange them).

Dinner: at Lo Que Hay

Dinner needs a special mention: a four-course vegan meal next to a swimming pool, all cooked in an outdoor kitchen: soup, tacos, a tamale with some kind of avocado sauce, and piña colada sorbet, plus all the jamaica we could drink (and I really pushed the limits on that). Here's a photo Tere took of the kitchen: