Tag Archive | "100 Talents"

Renowned Photographer Shares Talents

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Renowned Photographer Shares Talents


The University of Miami welcomes renowned photojournalist and documentarian Susan Meiselas as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow and 100 Talent.

By Andrew Boryga
UM News

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Susan Meiselas

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 10, 2016)— Susan Meiselas has traveled the world as a documentary photographer for over 40 years.

Her photography has transported people to the rubble and destruction of lower Manhattan on 9/11, to Nicaragua’s popular insurrection during the late 1970s, to a village in El Salvador destroyed by the country’s armed forces in the early 1980s, and to witness the photographic history of Kurdistan, which was presented in book and exhibition form in 1997.

Meiselas said she believes documentary photography is “an engagement with the world.” Now she will share that engagement, her experience, and her talent with the University of Miami community as one of its 100 Talents, one of the University’s Roadmap to Our New Century initiatives,introduced by President Julio Frenk.

As a Distinguished Presidential Fellow with the College of Arts and Sciences, Meiselas is actively engaging and interacting with students and collaborating with faculty across multiple disciplines. Her visit will culminate in a public lecture at the Newman Alumni Center on March 21.

So far, Meiselas’s time on campus has found her in photography and sculpture classrooms in the College’s art department, where she has shared her expertise on topics such as the history of war photography and how to make a living as an artist.

Meiselas said she hopes to help inspire photography students by answering questions and sharing her own experiences. But above all, she hopes to encourage them to get out, take risks, and not be afraid to make mistakes, while moving from skills training to working on their own in-depth projects.

“You only truly learn by doing it yourself,” she said.

The challenge for photographers, she added, is to help viewers of their work become engaged with people and issues that may be foreign to them.

To welcome Meiselas to campus, the College and the School of Communication hosted a special screening of her 1991 documentary Pictures from a Revolution, which  features the photographs Meiselas took during the Nicaraguan popular insurrection and follows her search a decade later to find and hear from the people in the photos.

Seventy-one of those photos were published in her hardcover book, “Nicaragua June ’78—July ’79,” which was published before she returned to the country and co-produced and directed the documentary with Alfred Guzzetti and Dick Rogers.

“It all begins with the photo and the relationships with the collaborators with whom the film is created. Filmmaking includes more collaborators, where photography is more of an isolated experience,” Meiselas told the nearly  100 students, faculty, staff and community members who attended the screening.

Her photos captured the fall of the Somoza regime and the revolution subsequently won by the Sandinistas in 1979. Since the images represent the various factions and lives of people who participated in the revolution in and out of battle, Meiselas wondered how they fared post-revolution. The film tells the story of those she could find, with Meiselas showing them their photo and asking about their lives since.

After the screening, Meiselas, Tom Lopez, professor of art and art history, and Bill Rothman, professor of cinema and interactive media, had a lively discussion about her process. “The film was constrained by trying to find only the people in the photos of the book,” said Meiselas.

This fall, Aperture re-issued the book to coincide with the 40th anniversary of her first trip to Nicaragua in 1978. The third release includes an augmented reality (AR) function, “Look and Listen” app which allows the reader to experience some of the images via two-to-four minute clips from Pictures from a Revolution as she returns to the same locations with the people she photographed. The AR app will be shared when she explores her work in professor Kim Grenfeder’s interactive class at the School of Communications in March.

What other activities Meiselas will be involved with is still evolving, but she plans to continue to engage students and faculty across departments in the hope that some of her experiences can complement their studies.

Miami has not been a subject for Meiselas; most of her previous encounters with the city have been  traveling through it to get to destinations throughout Latin America.

However, Meiselas said she is honored to be joining the University of Miami and is excited to dig deeper into the “multiplicity of lives” that she said Miami’s vibrant immigrant community cultivates.

Meiselas got her own start while teaching photography in an elementary school in the South Bronx during the 1970s. During that period, she became intrigued by a traveling “Girl Show” and the women who performed a striptease at small town carnivals and fairs in the Northeast. For three years during her summer breaks, Meiselas followed the women and the men they performed for from town to town. Her photographs evolved into her first book, Carnival Strippers, with images and stories she recorded at that time.

Her work has been published in The New York Times and Time Magazine, and she has had solo exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. She is a winner of the Robert Capa Gold Medal and in 1992 was named a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow. Her work is included in American and international collections.

Alexandra Bassil contributed to this report.

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UM’s First Distinguished Presidential Fellow Employs Her Story-Telling Power


Cuban journalist Yoani Sánchez, the newly named UM Distinguished Presidential Fellow, spoke about challenges faced by reporters and the state of an independent media in Cuba.
By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News
yoani

Yoani Sánchez, UM’s first Distinguished Presidential Fellow, inaugurated the UM Cuba Forums lecture series.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 25, 2016)—The 11-year-boy and his mother had come far—all the way from Cuba to the jungle of Panama’s Darién Gap. Now, the only thing they needed to do was cross the treacherous swath of land where bandits, vipers, and jaguars often lurk. Surely no easy task.

Traveling with the two, who were part of a small group of migrants trying to reach the United States, was an independent Cuban reporter.

“During a pause in the trip, the boy asked me what I did for a living,” Yoani Sánchez, the blogger who has achieved international fame for her critical portrayal of life in Cuba under the Castro regime, told a University of Miami audience of more than 350 people Monday evening.

“I told him I was a journalist, and his face lit up,” she said. “ ‘Then, you’re going to help us get out of here,’ the boy said. But the fact was, I couldn’t do much to defend him from the poisonous snakes and the mosquitoes that made their route more difficult. I couldn’t even protect him from the rain that fell all the time. The only thing I could do was tell their story.”

And as she has done in countless other articles chronicling the plight of Cubans, Sánchez did just that.

“Being a reporter doesn’t mean you’re a super hero,” Sánchez said from the University’s Newman Alumni Center, where, as a newly named UM Distinguished Presidential Fellow, she delivered the lecture, The Power to Tell a Story: Daily Life in Cuba through the Lens of an Independent Journalist. “Being a journalist simply means being a chronicler of reality, using words and images to tell what’s going on.”

The lecture served as the launch of UM’s Cuba Forums, a future series of lectures that will explore the country and its people.

Sánchez, who started the blog Generation Y, which she published by emailing entries to friends outside Cuba who then posted them online, said journalists working in countries where their freedom and lives are at risk because of what they write often produce stories of despair and anguish that do not lead to solutions. “As primary care physicians, we reporters are there in the best of times in the lives of people and also in their worst moments,” she explained. “We cannot cure the issues they face, but we can make an X-ray of what happens to them and a diagnosis of the evil they suffer.”

During a three-decade stretch, from the 1960s to the 1980s, reporters in Cuba found it impossible to do their work outside the narrow framework of the government. But it wasn’t solely the fear of reprisals that made it difficult for them to report accurately and responsibly, but the reality that local newspapers and other media had “become as guarded as military barracks,” said Sánchez.

By the mid-1990s, the Cuban independent journalism movement took root, aided by technology that allowed reporters to publish on foreign websites. Those initial independent reporters established the pillars of nongovernmental media but paid a price, many of them being imprisoned, Sánchez explained.

Today, the independent media in Cuba is exploding. In the last three years, Sánchez said, several digital sites have emerged, reporting on news, sports, and other topics without the fear of government control. “All of them share the desire to reflect the plurality of a diverse country that’s living through an important moment in its history,” said Sanchez, who founded Cuba’s first independent daily digital news outlet, 14ymedio.

“The new alternative reporters also have the commitment to raise the quality of media in Cuba and improve the standards of the profession. But it’s not just a matter of denouncing. It’s also a matter of telling,” she said, explaining that journalists need to report on topics such as the emerging Cuban economic sector making progress despite restrictions, high taxes, and the absence of a wholesale market.

Sánchez, part of the 100 endowed talents initiative introduced by UM President Julio Frenk at his inauguration last January, credited technology in the form of USB flash drives and smartphones for helping to disseminate news out of Cuba. The emergence of social media has also helped, as incidents such as police and human rights abuses and the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew in Cuba have been posted on Facebook, YouTube, and other online social networking sites.

The event began with a welcome by Sarah Betancourt, president of UM’s Federacion de Estudiantes Cubans, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

After her lecture, which was given in Spanish, Sánchez answered questions during a Q&A moderated by Frenk. When asked her opinion of the Obama administration normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba, she said the policy, despite its best intentions, has not improved conditions for many Cubans, especially those who find it difficult to buy food on a daily basis.

One woman, who said her father was a political prisoner in Cuba and died in one of Fidel Castro’s jails, asked Sánchez what a post-Castro Cuba will be like, to which she replied that while the Castro regime will end, “what comes later is the real challenge.”

“I believe Cuba has lots of potential. There is great human capital, which has a lot more to do with the DNA of a nation,” said Sánchez, going on to explain that the exile community and younger Cuban generation could play major roles in the island nation’s reconstruction.

As part of her activities as the first UM Distinguished Presidential Fellow, Sánchez lectured at the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Communication, and she was also the host of a Jeffersonian-style dinner with 13 students leaders, many of them Cuban-Americans.

During the events, she explained how technology is opening up new avenues of expression for Cubans living under the Castro regime, and how Cuba’s totalitarian government cannot control the accessibility and immediacy to technology.

At the School of Communication, she spoke to about 150 students in Associate Professor Sam Terilli’s Freedom of Expression Class. “When the Berlin Wall fell, the Cuban government did not give us any news,” she said. “It took five years for Cuban citizens to know that the Berlin Wall had fallen. Nowadays, when a dissident group is assaulted or imprisoned, it takes about 24 hours for that video to hit the Internet.”

Cell phones are widely available on the island. “You cannot stop technology,” she said.

Sánchez also said that while she approves of renewed relations between the island and the U.S., she resents the fact that many people, after seeing a string of celebrities such as Madonna and Mick Jagger visit the island, now believe Cuba has changed. “Cuba has not changed,” she told the class. “The concerts will help, but the only thing that could really bring about change is for Cuban citizens to push for change, and unfortunately that is not happening.”

University Communications’ Barbara Gutierrez contributed to this report.

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Independent Cuban Journalist Yoani Sánchez Named First Distinguished Presidential Fellow

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Independent Cuban Journalist Yoani Sánchez Named First Distinguished Presidential Fellow


Sánchez’s appointment makes her one of the 100 Talents, an initiative introduced by UM President Julio Frenk at his inauguration.

By Bárbara Gutiérrez
UM News

Yoani Snachez

Yoani Sánchez

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 18, 2016) – Cuban independent journalist Yoani Sánchez, a brazen defender of free speech and founder of 14ymedio, the island’s first independent daily digital news platform, has been named a Distinguished Presidential Fellow at the University of Miami, making her one of the 100 Talents, an initiative introduced during UM President Julio Frenk’s inauguration.

As part of the 100 endowed talents, an initiative that seeks to enrich the curriculum and enhance the academic reputation of the University, Sánchez will teach a non-credit course in the spring 2017 semester, give academic lectures, and participate in events with members of the faculty and the student body.

“It is an honor to welcome Yoani Sánchez to our University as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow,” said President Frenk. “I am excited that our students will be exposed to this brave champion of press freedom who promotes journalistic principles under very trying circumstances.”

At her first event,  which sold out quickly, Sánchez will launch UM Cuba Forums with a lecture titled “The Power to Tell a Story: Daily life in Cuba through the lens of an independent journalist.”

In the spring, she will offer a non-credit course titled “New Cuban Voices,” which will explore issues related to the current state of Cuban society and how it may continue to develop moving forward, especially as relations between the island nation and the U.S. continue to thaw.

“Since I visited Miami in 2013, I understood that preserved in the city were many traditions, memories and customs of Cuba that had long been forgotten in the island,” said Sánchez. “This opportunity to share experiences and knowledge with UM students and faculty will be enriching for my identity and I also hope to better connect with both realities.”

Sánchez first came to UM in April 2013 when she visited the UM Libraries’ Cuban Heritage Collection to get acquainted with the collection and offer her insights and experiences to a group of student journalists. Later that year, she returned to UM to offer a master class at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban America Studies.

A University of Havana graduate with a degree in philology, Sánchez immigrated to Switzerland in 2002 and returned to Cuba two years later determined to lead an independent life as a Cuban citizen. She launched a blog called “Generación Y” (“Generation Y”) that chronicled daily life in Cuba. President Barack Obama praised her blog in November 2009, writing that the blog “provides the world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba.”

In 2008, Time magazine listed her as one of the world’s most influential people. Her work has generated many awards, including the Ortega y Gasset Prize, Spain’s highest award for digital journalism, the Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Columbia University, and the World Press Freedom Hero Award from the International Press Institute.

In 2014, Sánchez launched the digital newspaper 14yMedio, which offers a fresh voice in the island with exclusive national news, highlighting not only political and economic developments but also social and cultural activities.

As director of 14ymedio, she oversees editorial operations, leads special features, and writes in-depth pieces about Cuba’s reality. Since Cuba’s government does not allow for a free press and allows only limited internet access, Sánchez has found an ingenious way of distributing 14ymedio. This includes sending it abroad to users who distribute it through email, and a PDF version that is shared once a week as part of a “paquete,” a USB flash drive containing a collection of pirated movies, magazines, music, apps, and news considered illegal in Cuba.

“Students always teach me much more with their questions and life experiences, because they have that necessary dose of curiosity that makes them investigate and dig deeper on issues. I feel younger and dare much more intellectually when I am with them,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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