I know that there is only a month left, but I figure a month is enough time to start writing about the Gallery. Over a month in, I’m finally feeling like I have a grasp on how things work around here. The hardest part is that so much has already happened.
A brief summary of what I’m doing:
I’m working at the Gallery of Heroes and Martyrs in Estelí, Nicaragua, an exhibit remembering the lives lost in the Sandinista Revolution and the Contra war. The Association of Mothers of Heroes and Martyrs- mothers who lost their children in the decade of violence- supports the Gallery and advocates for the mothers. I’m living with Doña Mina, the coordinator of the organization and a mother herself.
My project is a digital collection of histories of mothers who lost their children. I’m interviewing mothers and compiling their stories to having a living testimonial in the Gallery. Of course, I’m also doing smaller projects around the Gallery- publicity work, trying to get a little gift display started, translating the information on the walls to English for the tourists that come around these months.
-I looked over a lot of the film I took today and couldn’t help but laugh. I am filming with a simple web cam. The idea is just to get clips of mothers telling their stories so that people visiting the gallery get a broader idea of the impact of the violence and the revolution. In some interviews, mothers lean out of the camera frame to whisper secrets in my ear. “The mother that was just in here, she is just pretending to be sick,” they let me know before continuing their testimony. One mother got so excited by her story that she stands up and begins walking around the room to illustrate her story. Simultaneously enraptured and trying to get the web cam to follow her around the room, I end up with several minutes of film zoomed in on her stomach and then following her waving arms around the room.
-In Nicaragua, the houses are built for the climate. Many have windows with only metal bars across them to allow a breeze. Thus in the Galería, we frequently get the pleasure of the blaring salsa music from the neighboring Casa Cultura and the cheering from the basketball game in the nearby recreation center.
-Ownership: I’m only here for a month, so any project that I’m working with people at the gallery on has to be something that they are invested in. This means some ideas that I think are really good won’t fly.
-The mothers are so open with their stories. Doña Mina, the coordinator, is behind me in my project, and so she earns me a lot of trust with the mothers. Whether I’m interviewing them or not, I hear so many stories about the revolution and life today. They are generally willing to stop whatever they are doing and sit down with me.
-People who come in to the gallery curious. Mothers stop by every day to ask questions or just chat. Doña Mina, the coordinator, is a wealth of stories.
-Any question I have about the revolution and politics today (or really any question at all), someone has an answer for. Often, many people have many different answers.