My World IS 230

Welcome to one of Working Playground's network ArtSpace blogs!

This blog is a part of an afterschool digital photography My World model program at Intermediate School 230 in Jackson Heights, Queens. It will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays, in the library, from 3-5pm.

Essential Questions:
How can my world educate and inspire me? How can I educate and inspire my world?

Foundation Statement: The Unites States is a county of immigrants, a "melting pot" or "salad bowl" of diverse cultures and identities. Jackson Heights is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the world. Through writing, storyboarding, and photography, students in this program will explore the art of storytelling, focusing on their own cultural identity and family stories. A workshop with a professional journalist will train students to ask questions and work in the field. Trips to the Y Gallery and the East Side Tenement Museum will look closely at immigration perspectives. Students will create a photo slideshow of their work in January. 

In the Spring, students will delve into the world of zines. Since the 14th C (before blogs), marginalized citizens all over the world have created their own leaflet styled publications as a way to give voice to their ideas. By being challenged to answer the question, "What about your world makes you angry?" students will choose a topic they would like to research through the internet, through first-hand interviews with community members, and through the lens of their cameras.  Each student will conceivably create one handmade book and zine with an edition of 10. The final project will be a group zine with a circulation of two to three hundred. Field trips include the Queens Museum of Art and the MET. 

Sunday, December 9, 2007

ESPN reporter/editor

On December 3, ESPN The Magazine reporter/editor Ian Gordon came to the Photography Club to give an interview workshop! Students worked on open, closed, and follow-up questions. The idea is that we're going to start interviewing our family members and then, next semester, people on the street, so we wanted an introduction to asking questions. In the follow-up class we tried out our newfound interview skills by hitting up the guitar class, where we interviewed and photographed the participants. Check back soon for those photo essays!

Open-Ended Questions: Questions designed to get more information about the interviewee, or questions that do not have a “yes” or “no” answer or a factual answer; instead, you’re asking for opinions or feelings. These questions usually begin with WHY and HOW.
Closed Questions: Questions that lead to YES or NO answers or factual answers, like What’s your birthday? Do you like the Yankees? These questions usually begin with DO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, or HOW MANY?
Follow-Up Questions: After someone explains something that interests you, ask a question that you didn’t write down. Be flexible! Examples: Why did you feel lonely? You said you didn’t want to come here, why?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Recently we've been inspired by more of Joseph Rodriquez and the intense work he's done documenting gangs in East L.A. He put together a photo essay/documentary called East Side Stories. We talked about the difference between writing our own text and interviewing people to get good quotes to accompany our photographs.

We were particularly struck by this photograph because the mom doesn't seem to mind at all that her daughter is playing with a real gun. We talked about gangs here in New York and about how little we know. These photographs allowed us to see and learn about a world so different from our own. The caption reads: The morning after a rival gang tried to shoot Chivo for the fourth time. Chivo teaches his daughter how to hold a .32-caliber pistol. Her mother looks on. Boyle Heights, 1993.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Links to other Student Blogs

We've been checking out some of the other Working Playground blogs and comparing their great work to our own.
IS 252 in Brooklyn
New Design High School, Manhattan
JHS 44, Upper West Side, Manhattan
MS 2, Brooklyn

Field Trip to the Y Gallery

Last Wednesday we took a walking field trip to the only gallery in Jackson Heights, the Y Gallery. We brought along our handy viewfinders and pretended to take pictures of interesting compositions and subjects along the way. The exhibition (now over) was called Making Gook Luck and focused on the talismans of artists from all over the world, but who live and make work in New York. Cecilia, the curator, talked with the students at length about some of the pieces and even explained what it means to design and put together an exhibition. Go to the Y gallery's website! The downloable PDF essay about the exhibit has images of all the works.

Our favorite piece was the one we could experience, by Lina Puerta, called "Tree." Each student took his/her turn sitting inside and pulling closed the flaps, watching the slow birth of the light all around them, which came together at the top, seemingly eons away from the viewer. While offering a sancutary Puerta also reminds us that in many cultures trees are a source and symbol of good luck. They are also vital for our survival, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. Puerta is a Colombian-American artist who lives and works in New York City. To look at more of her work, check out her website,

The students also really liked the piece hanging in the middle of the gallery, by Ian Laughlin, entitled "Tiki—Fortune Favors the Bold," which playfully blends goodluck symbols from indigenous Maori culture (New Zealand), with American pennies and a western GoodYear tire. On the backside, with the pennies, it reads Lady Luck and accompanies the sillouette of a woman.

For more links of artists in the show:
Venezuelan born Alejandra Villasmil displayed the importance of friendship in her piece, "Never Ending Offering (Hopefully)," where a Chinese dragon (symbol of goodluck) is hung with portraits of her friends, who she believes to be her personal talismans.
Ikjoong Kang emigrated from South Korea to NYC in 1984 and his work is about recording the small daily experiences of his new life with a new culture and a new language. He has had lots of success doing public art here in the US but when he first arrived he worked at a grocery store and peddled watches on the street in Chinatown. His piece in the Making Good Luck Show, called "Buddha with Lucky Objects," included a curved collection of dozens of colorful images of Buddha, adorned on top with small lucky statuettes from around the world, including a Laughing Buddha, a model car, a college graduate, and a Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Questions posed to the class:
How does luck play a role in the experience of an immigrant?
Did you or your family have any lucky items they brought with them from their native country?
What's your talisman?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Student Work!

Here are some images that we took at home! We're trying to tell stories and practice our composition skills....let us know what you think!
Photograph by Jennifer
Photograph by Alexandra
Photograph by Daniela
Photography by Kevin
Photograph by Dayana
Photograph by Donald
Photograph by Edwin
Photograph Tasnima
Photograph by Daihana
Photograph by Pious

See if you can tell what's going on here, this series of photographs is a great example of how to tell a story visually. Taken by Charmi.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


What do I know about my own or my family’s immigration story?
What can I learn from my family about our immigration story?
What does is mean to be an immigrant?
How do I tell a story with words?
How can I tell a story with photographs?

We've started a new unit looking at what it means to tell a story, through text and/or photographs. We've been talking about immigration, given that Jackson Heights is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the world, and trying to get at our own immigration stories—or if not ours—than we go home and ask our parents.

On the second day of this unit we had some students read their work aloud, Donald read: (click on the image to enlarge)

And Tasnima shared with us: (click on the image to enlarge)

Once our stories are written we start to sketch them out, imagining how we would tell the story visually. We use Working Playground's tool, Storyboarding as a Graphic Organizer. It's important here to think about composition, creating CLOSE-UPS as well as WIDE SHOTS, but it's also necessary to think about SEQUENCE, meaning the order of the images. Here's an example done by Fariha, who picked out IMAGERY from Tasnima's story and did a brilliant job imagining extreme close-ups, regular close-ups, medium shots, wide shots, and even extreme wide-shots. Click on image to enlarge.

We've also looked at photo essays with text, like The New Americans, by writer Ruben Martinez (US citizen of Mexican/Salvadoran origin) and photographer Joseph Rodriguez (US citizen of Puertorican origin).

A lot of us are interested in documents, photographs, or objects that somehow tell a story about our family's histories. From The New Americans, here are some images that do that in an interesting way, including the person in the image:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Exploring Portraits and Self-Portraits

How can I represent something about myself with a photograph? What do I want it to say?Edwin
Alan, age 11: I want to learn almost everything about digital photography.
Pious, Age: 11. My goal is to know how to take pictures and how to design the pictures. This photo was created in the library where I was taking the books then my friend took the picture.
Charmi, Age: 11. My goal for the photography club this year is to learn how to take pictures and how to download them onto the computer. This photo was created while I was reading a book.
Fariha, Age: 12. My goal for the photography club this year is to learn how to edit photos with really cool effects and make the photo look more unique and creative. This photo was taken by one of my friends. I chose the pose. It was in Central Park.
Skye, Age: 12. My friend Jennifer took my picture and the fact that it's blurry stands for my shadow. it's like my twin ghost. It is also for Halloween. It is my shadow twin.
Tasnima, Age: 11. I want to learn about photography and how to take photos. How this photo was created: I was juts doing that and then my friend Pious took the picture.
Dora, Age 13. I hope to have a lot of fun taking pictures, and learn a lot about other cultures, too. My friend Dominic took this picture. She is also in 8th grade.

Daihana, Age: 12. My goal for the photography club this year is to learn how to use a camera and put it in the computer. This photo was created while I was standing in one place.
Donald, Age: 11. My hopes and dreams is to become a great photographer. I want to take pictures that are fantastic and look real.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Master Artist: Dulce Pinzón

Artist Dulce Pinzón, who dresses immigrants in superhero costumes and photographs them, is represented by the Y Gallery, in Jackson Heights.