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The Pozos Art Project: Artistic and Intercultural Exchange in Pozos, Mexico
A Tanner Fellowship Research Project
Tzintzun Aguilar Izzo '15

April 26 - June 1, 2013

pozos art project

Throughout my life, I have taught and acted with my parents. My mother and father are both artists and professors. While my parents have their individual creative activities, we mostly work as a family, teaching "circus arts" to youth for various international projects. Our current focus has been teaching indigenous youth in both Mexico and the United States. We create projects that not only introduce performance art but also incorporate themes that are culturally relevant, whether it be immigration or a unique sense of "nation" or "home." My personal evolution has brought me in contact with diverse art forms, but my interests are deepest in film and photography.

For my 2012 Tanner Fellowship project, my main goal was to enhance intercultural exchanges through the use of visual art forms. I accomplished this by teaching in the Pozos Art Project in the community of Mineral de Pozos, Mexico, and then by sharing the results of the project, through photographs, videos, and text, with the St. Lawrence University community. In this way, I was able to share with indigenous youth the tools that they need to express their creative voices, while at the same time documenting the process by writing about my experiences, both in a handwritten journal and in a blog for The Weave, Global Studies' independent media project.

Mineral de Pozos, 35 km northeast of San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato, once known throughout colonial Mexico for its affluence and thriving mining industry, has been a virtual ghost town for almost a century. While the town itself was abandoned, the indigenous people of Guanajuato, the Chichimecas, continue to populate the surrounding areas. The youth involved with The Pozos Art Project are from this culture. The Project introduces them to drawing, printmaking, digital photography, and darkroom techniques. High school students from Houston and undergraduate students from Rice University also travel to Pozos to take part in or assist with the workshops.

pozos

The Pozos Art Project began in the fall of 2007, when the husband/wife team of Geoff Winningham and Janice Freeman began teaching photography and studio art to the children of their adopted Mexican hometown of Mineral de Pozoso. Geoff Winningham and Janice Freeman are professors of visual arts at Rice University, and they invite a small group of undergraduate students each year to assist in teaching the workshops. Geoff Winningham began traveling to Mexico in 1980. Today, he and his wife live part of the year in Pozos, where they have a home with a darkroom and studio, classrooms, and a gallery space. In Pozos, I was Geoff Winningham’s personal assistant as I am bilingual (Spanish - English), have experience teaching, and am familiar with Mexican native cultures, as my father is indigenous Mexican. They continue to teach in the Department of Art and Art History at Rice and to offer workshops each summer in Mineral de Pozos.

- Tzintzun Aguilar Izzo '15

Special thanks to Geoff Winningham and Janice Freeman from the Pozos Art Project, Inc.