Promotoras traditionally bring health education to the underserved neighborhoods where they live. Las Fotos Project's Digital Promotoras are also community ambassadors, but rather than providing medical resources they wield cameras — tools to document stories of resilience and activism among their friends and neighbors. There's the story of the young feminist from Compton who gives workshops connecting “post-traumatic slave syndrome” with eating disorders; the 64-year-old cook in Boyle Heights who is fighting to legalize street vending; the 14-year-old LGBT-rights advocate; the high school student who broke free from gang life and became a musician. Each year, about 220 teenage girls from socioeconomically challenged homes in south, east and central L.A. complete Las Fotos workshops, where they receive one-on-one mentoring from professional artists. In addition to giving them a way to advocate for their communities, the workshops equip the girls with career skills, connect them with teens from other areas and teach them to use art to cope with stress, anxiety and depression. Established in 2010, Las Fotos recently opened its first studio/gallery space in Lincoln Heights, where the girls can exhibit their work and gather to create and collaborate — something many of them have never had the chance to do.
Credit: Las Fotos Project