The Institute of Texan Cultures
is collaborating with the Martinez St. Women’s Center
on our first ever summer youth exhibit, Girl’s Eye View: An Eastside HerStory.
We challenged ten Girl Zone summer camp participants reflect on their own culture and identity through the lens of community. Through three diverse media—photography, poetry, and film—these 11-15 year old artists share with the public what it means to be a young woman on the Eastside of San Antonio today. The aim is to produce a narrative that shares with people outside of the community what life is like there on the day-to-day level, and how young identities are formed on the ever-changing Eastside of San Antonio.
The Girl Zone camp, and we hope, developing this exhibit, has been a refuge for these young women who rally against structural and sometimes explicit violence each day in their community. Girl Zone offers a safe place for these youth to grow and learn as future leaders, and ITC is extending that safe place in a museum gallery and a formal museum exhibit.
Art instructor Ernesto Olivio
has worked closely with the ten girls this summer, guiding their creativity while working towards producing museum exhibit quality artwork and commentary. A tenant of the Girl Zone camp is fostering self-esteem, empowering young women to be independent thinkers and conscious social actors that give back to their community. In fact, those actions are inexorably linked in Girl Zone: loving yourself and supporting those around you.
Each day the girls recite a Mayan poem “In Lak'Ech”: You are my other me. If I do harm to you, I do harm to myself. If I love and respect you, I love and respect myself. Growing independently and collectively is key to the Girl Zone ideal, and in the eight weeks I have known these girls and followed their work, I have seen a transformation. Each girl has gained confidence and each girl recognizes a bit more that their perspective is important. What they have to say, what they have to teach us, has value.
One of the goals of our museum’s student-produced exhibit
program is to help young Texans recognize their stories are worth sharing. We are proud to feature these Girl Zone campers and their unique perspectives. This exhibit runs July 29 to October 31, and is supported by the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, a fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation.