Library Life


This past November and December we had the opportunity to work with a talented and amicable group of adult employees from the Parque Biblioteca (public library park) in San Javier, Medellín, Colombia. This neighborhood sprawls along the hillside in Comuna 13, in the western-central part of the city. The slope of this area is so steep, in fact, that the district is served by a public cable car system! But sharp slopes, unfortunately, aren’t its only challenges, as San Javier also has had the reputation of being among the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellín.

Fortunately, Medellín’s system of library parks, stunning architectural complexes that combine library buildings with ample green space around them, were created to address the need for more cultural and education space and public services in such less affluent neighborhoods. And the cohort of workshop participants that we worked with at the Parque Biblioteca San Javier are the very individuals charged with developing and providing these crucial programs.

The films this group produced varied greatly in terms of the cinematic techniques they employed, ranging from time-lapse, to photo essay, to archival material-based, to highly impressionistic and abstract. Thematically, however, they were much more consistent, being mostly about the library park and its programs. Interestingly, this marked the first time that our workshops were largely employed to empower the personnel of an organization with new skills with which they can serve their institution. But importantly, each piece was also made in a strong personal voice and style that made it all the more compelling and entertaining. So without further ado, have a look now at these intimate and “institutional” works:

(Click here to visit Bent Marble on YouTube)

While we typically have worked with youth in our courses, more and more we have also been facilitating workshops with adult populations… and we absolutely love it! Overall, the degree of creativity and discipline shown by our older students has been highly impressive, giving the younger folks a real “run for their money”. And truly the technologies that our curriculum is based around, like the public libraries themselves, are for everyone, and should be shared as such.

In this workshop series we also had the pleasure of collaborating with two talented facilitators from Medellín, Cristina Abad and Luis Felipe Quintana. Cristina, a seasoned freelance photographer with a strong background in documentary, imparted her great knowledge of composition, exposure, lighting, and working with subjects on a captivated audience of participants. Luis Felipe, a filmmaker and employee of the library park itself, shared his ample understanding of composition and editing, as well as assisted greatly with translational assistance in Spanish. So let’s have a listen now to what these two teaching artists had to say about their experience of the workshops:

Along with disciplined students, and fantastic facilitators, the library also afforded us great facilities, including an impressive on-site theatre where we held our final screening event, as part of the library’s year-end community open-house extravaganza. This provided our blossoming filmmakers both a large audience and deluge of positive feedback on their new works. Have a peek now at a photo gallery from our Facebook page which highlights the entire process of this workshop series, from the initial formation of film ideas to their final presentation:

Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher 2

And finally I’d like to offer our great gratitude to Nathalia Miranda Ortiz, from the Alcaldia de Medellín, and Eliana Maldonado, Director of the Parque Biblioteca San Javier, for believing in Bent Marble and giving us the space, students, and support to realize all this great work. We really rely whole-heartedly on our organizational partners, and sincerely hope to return and expand upon the programs we offer in the library parks and in this great city, as our experience here has truly breathed new life into Bent Marble.

¡Viva la biblioteca! ¡Viva Medellín! Let’s keep this marble rolling!

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