High school students send Video Postcards

by Yvonne Dawson

Daily Cougar Staff

You don't have to visit the museum district to appreciate art.

Ten area high school students want it known that not far from UH, another art venue is thriving: their neighborhood.

Through participation in a Blaffer Gallery UHReach Workshop, these Jackson Middle School and Austin and Yates High School students have captured images of their neighborhood and created Video Postcards from the Edge: Views of Life & Art from East End/Third Ward Teens. The project will premiere at 7 p.m. today in Dudley Hall.

Through the lens of a video camera, these students have explored the role public art plays in their community. Ulises Vasquez, a freshman at Austin High School, said that before this project, "I looked at something and thought, `that's cool,' but never thought of it as art."

Their first step was to learn the ins and outs of a video camera and video production. For two days, they shot around the UH campus, figuring out all the camera tricks: focusing, fading out, using it hand-held and on a tripod. In a round-table discussion, the group decided to focus on graffiti, sculptures, architecture and Project Rowhouses (an art space in the Third Ward).

For three weeks, the group shot footage around the city, with some students even conducting interviews. Juan Tamayo, a sophomore at Austin, secured an interview with a prominent graffiti artist and then, "took it from there. "We got them while they were doing a mural," he said.

"People write down what's going on in their lives. If some dude is looking down, there is probably something bad going on in his life. Some graffiti says stop the violence. Everybody thinks when they see graffiti, it's gangs, but it's not," said Tamayo.

UHReach's Intensive Program serves as an education and outreach program specifically aimed at middle and high schools in UH's immediate neighborhood.

Vasquez developed his idea of art as "something cool" to "an expression of a thought in someone's mind. Instead of keeping it in their mind, they paint it in graffiti. Or if he has an idea of a building, he can express it in architecture."

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