ArtYFacts: A Service Learning Project with The Street Children of the Dominican Republic
This exhibition presentation has a threefold purpose: it is a visual document of the efforts of university students who are working with Global Community Engagement, a service learning project based at Florida Gulf Coast University, and their interaction with the community and lives of children who live and work in the streets of Santiago, Dominican Republic. The second, to open the eyes of the street children to new perspectives of who they are and of their communities and, in the process, bring the visual images to communities of the developed world. The third objective is to introduce the art of photography to underprivileged Dominican and Haitian children. Finally, in a true sense of reciprocity, we expect to show that we learn as much or more from the children as they learn from us. The Art in this exhibition is the work of the children which is actual translations of their world through the art of photography. The conjunction Y of the title makes reference to the fact that this is a Spanish-speaking milieu. The Facts point at the crude realities of these children, something that cannot be whitewashed or beautified or made more comfortable by enclosing it within a frame or even the walls of an art gallery. Finally, Artifacts are indeed some of the objects displayed in this exhibition such as working tools and toys that the children make from their surrounding environment, utilizing found objects that those of us from the first world would consider trash. This exhibition brings the viewer a physical experience, where one cannot distance oneself from the object of contemplation. Pictures and objects are framed and displayed using actual trash brought from the streets where these children work and live.
Keywords: Service Learning, Photography, Street Children, Civic/Community Engagement, Dominican Republic
Dr. Ingrid Martinez-Rico
Associate Professor of Spanish and German, Department of Languages and Literatures