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Wynwood Pop-Up Exhibits Student-Shot Everyday Portraits

Gregory Castillo


On a warm afternoon in Wynwood, just minutes away from their homes in Allapattah and Overtown, a group of students is making images. 

The group, 25 students selected by the Play to Win Foundation, is part of the program's Through My Lens: Art Is Life workshop. The mission is to empower students through art. 

Students paired with mentors spent all day on Nov. 8 crafting their photography skills. Armed with state-of-the-art Nokia phones, they snapped photos of each other in front of murals. 

Credit Gregory Castillo / WLRN
Students took photographs on their newly-acquired Nokia Lumia phones

"It gives me a different perspective of photography," says Elijah Wells, 17, a student at Miami Arts Charter. "What they're doing now for the kids in Overtown and the inner cities is perfect. They're giving us a free phone and letting us take pictures that we feel represent our community through our eyes." 

The students began their days with various presentations from event sponsors and mentors. Longtime Miami Herald photojournalist Carl Juste believes this event means more than just good photos. 

"The idea is to create a conduit where your kids can see themselves as mentors themselves in 15, 20 years," he says. 

Taking a bus from Wynwood, the group visited iconic locations and created images that demonstrated the areas many of them call home.

Credit Gregory Castillo / WLRN
Carl Juste, right, a veteran photojournalist at the Miami Herald helped mentor various groups of students throughout the workshop

"I think it's so important to feed into young people," says Michelle Spence-Jones, former Miami-Dade commissioner and co-founder of Play to Win. "They are our future. If we don't begin to expose them as the world changes, they will be left behind." 

For some students, being gifted a new phone was something they just couldn't have imagined. 

"I don't have a phone. I have this phone now that they've given me and it's great," says Miracle Flowers. "I can take pictures. I can post them online for the world to see. I can do a lot." 

The students' work will be exhibited from Dec. 3 to 7 at the FusionMIA Art Gallery in Wynwood. 

Credit Gregory Castillo / WLRN
Students were given a tour of Wynwood to test their new Nokia camera phones