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. 

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: