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Archive: Ti Atis Afterschool Workshops at P.S.189, The Bilingual Center



HCX began a two-pronged session of Ti Atis Afterschool Workshops at P.S.189, The Bilingual Center, in February 2013. The session included a photo narrative workshop for 6th & 7th graders led by photographer Richard Louissaint and a collaborative mural project for 4th & 5th graders led by visual artist Jules Joseph.

The Photography Narrative Workshop offered 13 students an opportunity to experience working with an unfamiliar medium. Students began the workshop with a study in photo critique, where they were asked to view books by photographers from around the world. They were encouraged to share their ideas about the aesthetics of the photographs and to reach a consensus on the meaning of each image.

Many of the kids felt that the photos of Brooklyn neighborhoods during the summertime were the best, particularly one of a football casting a shadow against a blacktop.  The group felt that it captured the moment from so many angles: the energy of the game, the moving shadow, and the finite number of days in summer. Following the critique, students were introduced to Richard’s impressive collection of vintage films and modern digital cameras. He explained the basic features of cameras such as the F-stop, shutter, and ISO speeds.

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Subsequent sessions explored the elements of composing a photo, deciding a focal point, filling the frame, getting in close and, most importantly, experimenting! In a series of exercises with cameras provided by HCX and the Photography Department at Pratt Institute, students visited other after-school classrooms and sites around the school grounds to test out their knowledge. For the final project, they selected a storyline for which they had to take five photos explaining their creative focus. The completed photo narratives were displayed on the Ti Atis Afterschool Workshop bulletin board outside the school’s main office.

The Collaborative Mural Project brought together a total of 24 4th & 5th graders to create an indoor mural. Through a series of brainstorming workshops that responded to the theme of “Knowledge is Power,” students created symbols, pictures, and patterns that were later interpreted by the instructing muralist Jules Joseph. Students used a range of idea-generating techniques and mediums to explore the mural’s theme; in one exercise they learned about the significance of different symbols, in another they experimented with mixing colors. These exercises contributed to the development of their artistic skills and to their understanding of the role of the arts in fostering community.

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After an incident that involved a huge puddle of paint and some very blue hands, the students cracked down on the mural fabrication. Students worked on the wall with intensity and focus, making sure to stay within the mural mock-up and use the correct color code. Over the course of 3 weeks, they worked with Jules to paint and plan the 165 sq. ft. mural and add their own touches in the blue background where they painted icons representing their concept of knowledge. Jules also integrated photos of three of the workshop students (left to right: Cameron, Nefetali, and Mercedes) into the mural design. It was interesting to observe the new ownership of the wall that the students expressed to their classmates “Don’t touch the wall! It’s not ready! It’s not dry!” and at passing classrooms of students, “Please, don’t lean on the wall yet. We’re still working on it.” Many of the student and staff bystanders pointed to the three portraits in progress and tried to guess who the students were. Others were curious as to how we got the images so big, Ti Atis students rushed to explain the process of grid-work and using a projector to create a blown up image. The completed mural presents images of students in contemplative poses bound together by green vines which symbolize the ever-increasing unifier of knowledge.

Click here for more photos of this session of Ti Atis Afterschool Workshop.

The dedication ceremony took place on May 3rd before an audience of workshop students, their peers, P.S.189 administration, and HCX staff. In front of the completed mural, student artists and their peers were encouraged to respond to the new mural and what meanings came forth. Students spoke to the reinforced sense of school pride and how this mural stands as a symbol for their love of learning and overcoming “larger than life” obstacles. Later, the group moved to the photo exhibition where the featured photographers talked about their process and difficulty working with photography such as perspective, timing, and lighting. The students also talked about how their effort to capture something specifically led them to see something they hadn’t originally been looking for.


Working with the students reinforced in me the need for the arts in compulsory public education. The meshing of ideas and perspectives witnessed during this session made evident that some situations can only be answered through collaborative and creative thought. As school districts all over the U.S. continue to whittle down their arts programs (what they consider elective activities), the opportunities for our young people to learn innovative thought processes and the importance of constructive self-expression is dwindling. Through programs such as Ti Atis Afterschool Workshops and the many arts-based afterschool programs blossoming across the country, we as teachers of the next generation must continue to give our children the tools for an innovative, inclusive, and culturally-informed tomorrow.

If you believe in the change we are making at P.S.189, The Bilingual Center, consider making a designated donation to HCX | Youth programming to support Ti Atis Afterschool Workshops and our other youth programs.

Amount: $

In the donation memo line, designate your gift to HCX Youth Programs.


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June 15: Veríte Sou Tanbou: The Truth about Haitian Vodou


Check out this free event honoring Haitian vodou practice and performance!


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February 16: HCX Collaborations | Contemporary Haitian Dance with Jean-René Delsoin


Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance & Haiti Cultural Exchange present a special Contemporary Haitian dance class with choreographer and dancer Jean-René Delsoin.

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Klas Kreyol Pou Ti Moun Session I




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