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"Hey, Listen to Me" Writing Pictures
August 18, 2005

Houston Students Exhibit Work From
FotoFest’s Literacy Through Photography Program

September 8– October 7, 2005

For Immediate Release

HOUSTON, TEXAS (August 17, 2004) - Students from schools across Houston and Harris County reveal their thoughts about Self, Family, Community and Dreams in a special exhibit of their photographs and writing.

Discussing, photographing, then writing about their own lives are the motivating forces for students working in FotoFest’s Literacy Through Photography (LTP) program in Houston and Harris County schools. FotoFest celebrates the start of the new fall semester and 15 years of the LTP program in Houston with a show of over 100 student works.

The exhibit, “Hey, Listen To Me!” Writing Pictures, opens Thursday, September 8, 2005 6-9 pm in conjunction with International Literacy Day at FotoFest’s downtown gallery and headquarters at Vine Street Studios. The show is a principal feature of the annual Downtown Stomp Around, a multi-gallery celebration of the opening of Houston's downtown arts season, co-sponsored by DiverseWorks. The FotoFest opening and exhibition are free to the public. The exhibit continues through Friday, October 7. Regular gallery hours are Monday – Friday 10 am to 6 pm.

Literacy Through Photography has been in Houston’s classrooms for 15 years and during this time FotoFest has trained over 300 teachers who have used the program with over 20,000 students. In 2005-2006, the program is scheduled to be used by 44 inner-city schools during the 2005-2006 school year - serving more than 2,000 students in the Houston area alone.

LTP uses traditional photography and digital image-making to inspire students to write and write effectively. The 27-assignment curriculum, with the four LTP themes of Self, Family, Community, and Dreams, gives students the opportunity to write about what they know best, themselves and their lives. Students increase visual and verbal literacy while building cognitive skills, self-esteem, awareness of each other, and interest in the classroom.

“A camera excites me…the lens, the shape, the button, the click. I have never felt so much excitement.”- Margo Rodriguez, Gregory Lincoln Middle School, Houston, TX.

“ My students have developed their creativity and improved language skills.” - Obed Franco, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Houston, TX

The Literacy Through Photography program is taught by classroom teachers. Teachers receive a project-based writing curriculum, comprehensive program training, classroom support, and teaching resources to create a learning environment where ideas and creativity can thrive.

“Hey, Listen To Me!” Writing Pictures includes work by over a hundred students. In their works, students combine photographs and writing that offer revealing glimpses into the often overlooked life, hopes, and dreams of youth. By providing a platform for students to write about something that is intimately connected with them, the resulting narratives unfold in ways that bring to light the writers’ thoughts.

FotoFest’s new Digital curriculum and English as a Second Language (ESL) curriculum give training in areas of special need – development of digital technology skills and English language development. Students and teachers participating in LTP programs have access to art tours and projects developed in conjunction with FotoFest Biennials. The 2006 Biennial will offer students special projects related to the Biennial theme, EARTH.

Since the late 1980’s, when FotoFest developed Literacy Through Photography, the program has been funded by grants from foundations, corporations, government agencies and individuals. Recent sponsors include the National Endowment for the Arts, Vale-Asche Foundation, H.E.B., The Powell Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, and Target Stores. FotoFest does a number of LTP programs in partnership with Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams) and Harris County Department of Education's Cooperative for After-School Enrichment(CASE).

For more information, check the FotoFest Web site at or contact FotoFest Press Coordinator Frank Rose at 713/ 223-5522 ext 26.

Margarita Ylana, Collage , 12th Grade, Jefferson High School, 2005, Collage, LTP Digital Pilot Program, Houston