Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Big Day - Erik's Exhibition

In the last few blogs, I have written about teaching photography - or transmitting my love of photography - to Erik, a 10 year old boy. It has been rewarding and sometimes frustrating. But it culminated in an exhibition of Erik's photographs.

Many readers have asked me about the exhibition.

The good news is that the exhibition, held on Sunday, April 5, was a great success! We sold over 50 photographs, and many, many people attended.

The food was wonderful! Mari (Erik's mom) and her friends cooked some wonderful things. I was sure that they had cooked too much food, but by the end of the event, almost everything was gone.

Erik signing photographs

During the week before the event, I went to Erik's school to invite the principal and his teacher. Although they promised to come, they didn't make it (remember, this is the teacher that called Erik a "burro" - a dummy) Erik's classroom was stifling - 40 students crammed into a small classroom on a hot day. All of the children were wearing uniforms, including sweaters. Erik later told me that they weren't allowed to remove their sweaters, no matter how hot it was.

Linda and I worked hard on Friday and Saturday to set up the show. Lavinia's Framing lent us easels and boards to display the works. Mari and Linda worked hard to clean up the house. Erik and I made the final photograph choices and I made display prints (13 x 17) as well as smaller prints to sell. We set up the easels in the courtyard, and the food in the dining room and on the patio.

I asked Mari whether her parents would attend, and she told me that they lived too far away - 1 1/2 hours by bus. I encouraged her to have them come, and even offered to pick them up. On the day of the show, her proud parents were the first to arrive. They were in their mid-80's, and have 9 children and over 60 grandchildren and great-grandchildren! One of the most popular photographs of the show was of the ancient blue door to their home. At the end of the show, Erik's grandmother kissed and hugged Linda and me, and invited us to visit us at their ranch. We are looking forward to doing so next year.

You may ask whether we accomplished our goal of enhancing Erik's "auto estimo" (self-confidence). I think we made some real progress. At the entrance to the show was a new photo, taken by Linda the previous week, of a proud Erik. To me, he certainly looks more self-confident. What do you think? He now looks us in the eye when he talks to us, and shakes our hands with a firm grip.

We raised over 5000 pesos (about $400 US). Half the money went towards the purchase of Erik's camera, supplies, expenses and food for the event. He got the other half. Remember that this is a boy whose weekly allowance is 20 pesos, or about $1.50. When I handed him over 2500 pesos, his eyes opened wide, as he had never seen so much money in his life. His mother took it for safekeeping. She asked him what he wanted with the money, and he replied "new clothes." I suggested a bicycle, and his eyes lit up.

A neighbor who is a professional photographer, Robb Kendrick, has volunteered to work with Erik over the summer, so he will continue his work in photography. I expect that Erik, with our encouragement and some hard work, will continue to improve both his photographs and his self-esteem.

Stay tuned for the next episode in Erik's burgeoning career (and see below)!

The exhibition consisted of 18 photographs, which are available for $12 (8 1/2 x 11) and $20 (13 x 17), postpaid. Other sizes available on request.

My Grandparents' Door
La Puerta de Mis Abuelos


The Chimney and the Clouds
La Chimenea y Las Nubes

Mojigangas Puppets
Las Mojigangas

Broken Christ
Christo Roto

Magic Sombrero
Sombrero Magico

Maracas and Drums
Las maracas y Los Tambores

Maguey Cactus

The Musicians
Los Nortenos

Blue Table with Skull & Gourds
Mesa Azul con Calavery y Calabasas

Sombrero on a Cactus
Sombrero arriba Cactus

The House in the Tree
La Casa en el Arbol

Flying Tire
Llanta Volando


The Virgen of St. John
La Virgen de San Juan

The Dry Streambed
El Arroyo

The Hidden Leaf
La Hoja Escondida

Bar Miami
Bar Miami

Note that almost all of these photographs were taken by Erik without my assistance. In most cases, I wasn't even with him. Most of the prints are straight, or with very modest Photoshop assistance, with the exception of the following:

Broken Christ - I used an uninteresting photograph of a piece of sculpture to show Erik some of the things that Photoshop could do - in this case granulation and color changing.

The original photo of the entire sculpture and the closeup are below.

Truper - this started as a photograph of a sombrero in Erik's father's wheelbarrow. The wheelbarrow is made by Truper company, a large manufacturer of tools in Mexico. I showed Erik how sometimes a photograph can be cropped to make it more interesting. Even after cropping, it still lacked something (to my eyes), so I desaturated it to turn it into a black and white semi abstraction. The original photo is shown below.

The Hidden Leaf - this was a shot of dry corn leaves. Because it was taken on a very bright day, the shadows were intense, and the contrast of the photograph was excessive. By removing the color and turning it into a black and white photograph, we were able to use the contrast to benefit the photograph. However, it was still uninteresting to me. I suggested to Erik that we crop the shot to show a closeup of the leaves.

Original photo below
Erik did not do the Photoshop work or the printing. They were done by me. Teaching him may be a photographic project for next year. He's not quite 10 years old, and cannot afford a computer (certainly not with internet access).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that the photo exhibit was a success. I wish I could have been there. The grandparents look classic. Keep up he good work and post more often so I can keep alive a sense of San Miguel.
mark from Santa Cruz, Ca.