In Spring 2007, the Cihuame Project partnered the Photography and Imaging Department at ArtCenter College of Design with the Film Department at CENTRO diseño-cine-television. It was conceived in order to document and promote the mission of Cihuame, a nonprofit group based in Mexico.
The project was launched with two days of workshops at CENTRO headquarters in Mexico City followed by a week of immersive fieldwork in the highlands of Veracruz. The 14 participants, one faculty member and six students from each institution, interviewed locals and documented activities in the small pueblos surrounding the town of Tlachichilco.
The fieldwork was designed to precede a series of dedicated academic courses at both schools, and a bi-lingual seminar that ArtCenter hosted to evaluate the results and investigate potential outcomes. The ultimate goal of this post-production stage was to help the students tell a story through their image making that would highlight the positive impact Cihuame has on their constituency.
With the Cihuame Project, ArtCenter and CENTRO welcomed the opportunity to develop a new model for institutions, non-profits, photographers and filmmakers to participate in collaborative projects that raise public awareness of urgent world issues through innovative communication and advocacy. Through collaborations with organizations dedicated to social and humanitarian work in all its forms, ArtCenter and Designmatters are able to give students unique experiences in constructing diverse, cooperative investigative teams with a shared commitment to larger project goals.
Dennis Keeley is the chair of the undergraduate Photography and Imaging Department at ArtCenter and co-founder and publisher of Acuity Press. A graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, he has worked as an artist, photographer, teacher and writer for more than 25 years. He began his career in the field of music portraiture and worked with some of the most notable names in the recording industry. A documentary photographer for the Getty Conservation Institute, Keeley has also worked with clients such as Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Records, Island Records, Capitol Records, The New York Times and Fuji film.
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