Current MFA Photography candidate Alicia Turbitt and MFA Photography alumnus Cotton Miller ’13 became involved with NicaPhoto through the MFA Photography program director, Christopher James. James is a mutual friend of Ronnie Ellen Maher, the director and founder of NicaPhoto. The mission of NicaPhoto is to empower disadvantaged children and their families living in the poorest barrios of Nicaragua. By allowing these children to reach their full potential, NicaPhoto strives to break the cycle of extreme poverty by working with members of this community.
Ronnie reached out to Christopher for recommendations of MFA students, or artists in general, that might be interested in teaching for NicaPhoto. After back and forth emails with Ronnie, a face-to-face over coffee, and a sudden (but lovely) drop in airfare, both Cotton and Alicia decided to head to Nagarote, Nicaragua. With no clear plan, they moved forward with making this experience a reality, allowing the details and logistics to unfold in due time.
Photography Workshops in the Barrio
A typical day in Nagarote consisted of morning and afternoon sessions with two different age groups. In the morning we met with the younger group of 10 to 13 year-olds, the afternoon session with the older 14 to 17 year-olds. Each session began with a critique, looking at images the students captured the previous day, discussing what worked, and what didn't. Critique was followed by a short presentation of (loose) artistic guidelines they would incorporate that day. Next, they would assign a photo project, or a few key things to look for while shooting on location. The week of workshops was presented to the community at local parks – which proved to be popular with many in the barrio.