Author Archive

End of Fall 2011 and Spring 2012

May 19, 2012

The school year has passed really quickly in the 5th and 6th grade classroom, and our 6th graders are getting ready to move on to the middle school class next year. Before they go, we wanted to post our spring’s work to the blog for your listening pleasure: the METAS 2012 mixtape. Click here to download, and leave a comment to tell us what you think!

Site-Seeing: MetaPuentes at Richmond Main Street Initiative

July 17, 2010

Curator Anyka Barber invited MetaPuentes to translate our work into window treatments for Richmond Main Street Initiative‘s storefront windows. From now until August 28, you can see banners of our work hanging at RMSI’s downtown offices at 1000 Macdonald Avenue. Where We’re From, an oral history/poetry collaboration between artist and author Summer Brenner and Community Works, working with students at Richmond and Kappa High Schools and their communities of elders, is also on view at 1002 Macdonald Avenue as a part of RMSI’s summer exhibition Site-Seeing.

Banners going up at Richmond Main Street Initiative

For this installation, we laser-cut vellum banners with reproductions of the doors we made for houses in Colima. We also reconfigured some of our project documentation to see whether the images and stories from Colima would translate to the downtown environment of Richmond, California. See what you think:

Banner: A friend picks you up...

Banner with Cruz Sanchez' story

Cruz Sachez banner detail

Installation open 24 hours a day at Richmond Main Street Initiative, 1000 Macdonald Avenue, Richmond, CA.

No Right Angles: UC Berkeley’s 2010 MFA Exhibition

July 17, 2010

Throughout the spring and early summer of 2010, students from Metas at Contra Costa College collaborated with me (Amanda Eicher) as a part of my thesis research in UC Berkeley’s Art Practice Department.

Cuauhtemoc and friends at Metas

Cuauhtemoc and friends at Metas

Works ready to be installed at Berkeley Art Museum

Artworks ready to be installed at Berkeley Art Museum

For the graduate exhibition, we showed evidence of the conversations we’ve been having all semester – talks about home, safety, violence, mentorship, finding one’s voice, and how to confront the biggest issues teens are facing right now. These talks were designed to stretch from Richmond, California to Colima, El Salvador via text messaging – however, much of the work of discovering what we had to say took place in the classroom and, ultimately, in the museum.

Notes from Colima to Metas participants

Chat request from Colima, El Salvador

Finding out that one of the shared issues between Richmond and Colima – gangs – was having a particularly harsh effect in a neighborhood in Colima where houses had no real doors, we decided to use the sculptural medium of doors to document conversation with – and our messages for – participating teens in El Salvador. Ten donated doors from Ohmega Salvage were fitted to doorways in Colima houses, embossed with words from our conversations, and finished for exhibition in the museum. We also decided to show writings from El Salvador and Richmond in the museum, along with the large templates of doorway openings complete with notes on family’s individual needs.

Graphic designs from the conversations and writings…

were translated by parents and friends, then embossed on the wooden doors (writing by Allen Pablo)…

Embossed text on wooden doors

which were then painted and installed in the museum.

Letters embossed on white door

Detail of Cruz Sanchez’ door

Morena Batres and Noemy Sanchez' front door

Morena Batres and Noemy Sanchez’ front door as installed at Berkeley Art Museum

Paper documents from MetaPuentes conversations

Installation view of chat invitations between Richmond and Colima participants; door template for Morena Batres and Noemy Sanchez’ house (Photograph courtesy of Berkeley Art Museum; copyright Sibila Savage)

Installation view of doors and documentation, Berkeley Art Museum

Installation view of doors, documentation at Berkeley Art Museum (Photograph courtesy of Berkeley Art Museum; copyright Sibila Savage)

The installation went well with the help of Berkeley Art Museum and fellow grads from the MFA program! However, the students at Metas were right in the middle of finals and graduation, so they didn’t install during the school days; instead they came for the artist talks and the openings, to present their observations live.

Meditation at Berkeley Art Museum

July 17, 2010

All the posts on meditation (please scroll down to read some of these writings) ended up being part of the content for a meditation and performance at the Berkeley Art Museum by MetaPuentes participants, as a part of the No Right Angles exhibition, UC Berkeley’s 2010 MFA show.

MetaPuentes participants leading meditation at Berkeley Art Museum

MetaPuentes women preparing the crowd for a group meditation

Mayra Padilla, Metas Director

Mayra Padilla, director of Metas at Contra Costa College, talking about meditation as a tool for self-awareness and how the high school group at Metas have used it over the past two years

Pamela Tapia at Berkeley Art Museum

A (sadly very blurry!) Pamela Tapia leading the group meditation at Berkeley Art Museum

Cynthia Ochoa at Berkeley Art Museum

Cynthia Ochoa (with Jennifer Sanchez, left), reading original work on friendship as a part of the group meditation

Maria Carranza and Abigail Corona at Berkeley Art Museum

Abigail Corona and Maria Carranza reading original writing at Berkeley Art Museum.

After students read their writings, they accepted questions from the crowd. They eloquently responded to inquiries about their writing, their identities as artists, and their connection to the works in the exhibition and our work with teens in El Salvador with answers that wowed the crowd and moved them to tears.
Many thanks to my mother, Jane Magee Mitchell, for taking photos during a very long day of museum-going!

Many thanks, too, to a terrific crowd which included local artists and anthropologists as well as parents of Berkeley MFA graduates and Metas participants. We are so lucky to have the luxury of support from our families and friends!


February 26, 2010

Metapuentes is a collaboration between 33 high school students who attend the weekend enrichment program Metas at Contra Costa College, and young people in the rural town of Colima, El Salvador, 45 kilometers north of  San Salvador. In a text-messaging based exchange of ideas and mentorship, participants will work together to shape public art projects which reflect their interactions as peer counselors, colleagues, and young adults confronting similar challenges to building their communities and their futures.

Metapuentes’ first project will result in the shipment of 10 – 20 wooden doors to El Salvador. Targeting safety in a part of Colima comprised mostly of informal housing, this project will construct doors to fit the houses and rooms occupied by a population of mainly single woman heads of household. These doors will be inscribed with words from the conversations between Metapuentes participants in Richmond and Colima – discussions about safety, security, and what it takes to make a community safe enough to support the success of its families and young people.

DML/HASTAC Competition

February 26, 2010

Below is the text of our grant proposal to the Digital Media Learning Competition DML/HASTAC, supported by the Macarthur Foundation, offers grants of up to $200,000 for innovative learning laboratory projects; we’re hoping that the collaboration between the 33 high school participants in Metas at Contra Costa College and youth in Colima, El Salvador, will gain support for long-term collaboration.


MetaPuentes pilots the use of ‘text-clubs’ as mentorship bridges between youth in California and El Salvador. Using mobile technology supported by a social networking web portal, MetaPuentes builds a youth-driven learning laboratory exploring alternatives to violence – a web-based collaboration point for youth, leaders, and communities.


Communities throughout the US and Central America are linked by common challenges related to creating alternatives to violence for youth. Teens in Richmond, California and Colima, El Salvador have been developing virally-patterned solutions via text-messaging, social networking sites, and peer-mentorship around employment and academic success. MetaPuentes seeks to build bridges of success between teens from California to Central America via mobile and digital technology, and to extend young people’s expertise into real-world solutions in collaboration with community leadership.

The extracurricular Metas program at Contra Costa College has proven that mentorship training and participatory learning can open doors to success in STEM fields and develop strategies for violence prevention among young adults. Over 200 youth and families participate in the Metas program which supports early college entrance and graduation, minorities in maths and sciences at CCC, and families building cultural bridges that lead to success – connecting home cultures and academic/employment cultures – in a primarily bilingual Spanish/English learning community.

Young people in rural El Salvador are pioneering text-messaging clubs as a way to find like-minded peers across El Salvador and Central America. In small communities where gang violence and youth crime is increasing and employment opportunities are shrinking, young people are creating support networks for success through M-technology.

MetaPuentes builds upon young people’s expertise, extending peer-mentoring relationships across national borders through digital and M-technology. Participants will use a web-portal to document text-based conversations and relationships forming over distance, as well as local oral history interviews with community leaders involved in violence and gang prevention. Participants will draw upon the information gathered to create an online and real-time exchange of public artworks, based on technology and engineering skills, in collaboration with host communities, allowing them to insert the markers of these conversations into practical art and public dialogue.