Asier Sebastian Rojas Mora is a second grade student at the Escuela Alternativa de Desarrollo Comunicacional in the community of Pueblo Nuevo, in the heart of Mérida, Venezuela. NACLA has announced young Asier the winner of the the fall 2012 issue of NACLA Report on the Americas: Radical Media in the Americas. His photograph was made during a series of community photography workshops I gave in 2012 in collaboration with La Escuelita. The workshops are a contribution towards an ongoing project that the students, teachers, and community are undertaking to examine and document local memory in their community. The students, including Asier Rojas and Keysili Izarra were introduced to the camera and given the opportunity to photograph as they pleased. They photographed while doing what they enjoy the most, that is, while playing with their friends within the sanctuary that is their small school. At other times, the students went out into their community armed with a question: where is your favorite place in your barrio? Who are your friends? What do you like to do? As they explore their community, they begin to process the meaning and importance of the images they create.
The students and myself recently wrapped up a joint exhibition at the historic Casa de Nuestra America José Martí, in the Capitolio district of Caracas, Venezuela. Nearly the entire school, students and faculty, traveled 17 hours by bus from their homes in Mérida to their Capital city of Caracas for the show, 38 people in total. It took a lot of help from the community, and my gratitude goes out to everyone who helped in any way. We are looking forward to future shows, and to continuing this work in general. To see more of the students' work, please visit laescuelitadelbarrio.org