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Art transcends language

A photo collage of eight photos of different people.

This summer, a dozen students from Annapolis High School attended AACC in a program for emergent multilingual English learners (students whose first language is not English).

Students in the English Language Learners in College program took a noncredit Capstone Grammar and Editing course along with a one-credit Student Success Seminar. Both courses were taught by multilingual instructors. Not only did students improve their grammar and English skills, but they also had the opportunity to connect to college resources, earn college credit, visit museums and learn from guest lecturers.

This year the classes also partnered with AACC’s Visual Arts department to integrate art projects into their learning. The projects were displayed in the Pascal Art Gallery in August.

For their first project, students created cajitas de suenos or "dream boxes” based on the work of Joseph Cornell, who was known for his unique creations of surreal miniature worlds contained within small boxes. They used trinkets, found objects, photographs, glass vials and various other elements to express the themes of identity and purpose in their own dream boxing.

“The glass means my life, like the bird I am free. Since my family is in Guatemala. ... The key is the one that opens the door to all my dreams. The bracelet is my mother, who is always there supporting me. … The pot with colored stones are all the goals I want to complete.” Alfredo Chavix Aquin wrote about his dream box.

The second art project came after a trip to Annapolis with AACC alumnus and photographer Graig Bracey. Bracey provided tips as the class photographed unique architecture, waterscapes and portraits along the city's waterfront – only miles from their neighborhood homes. Once back in the studio, the students reflected on the theme of community. Through a photo transfer process, they combined images of family, friends and culture with elements of Annapolis to show a cohesive whole.

“These photos will remain as a memory of special moments that I have shared,” Lesly Rodriguez Mejia wrote about a piece (pictured above) depicting photos of family and friends in Mexico and the United States.


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