Adj Marshall

Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Art Builds Community

In Art, Education, Photography, Uncategorized on February 25, 2011 at 2:24 am
Photo Making

“Community wisdom begins with being encountered”

-Kathleen Hirsch

Part of my LEAP this year has focused on seeking out educational opportunities that align with my interest in the intersection of art and social justice. While speaking with a friend this winter, I was informed about the class Community Lens, a joint venture between a number of departments and communities. The class is co-taught by faculty of the Public and Community Service Department and the Art Department at Providence College. The class’ students are partnering with the student artists of City Arts, a local after school arts program on the South Side. With so many moving parts this class can feel unwieldy sometimes but more often than not it creates a feeling of nervous potential, a sense of opportunity.

“Community Lens  is defined in its syllabus as an interdisciplinary course that focuses on the concept and practice of community using photography as a tool for understanding the lived reality of community among youth in Providence. Specifically students will read theories of community, learn photography skills, and teach youth in Providence to use photography to tell their own stories of community. ”

Photo Review at City Arts

The class has 3 objectives:

Creating a Learning Community– In which you can develop an understanding of the connections between art and social change with specific focus on the question “What dose community mean?”

Serving the Youth of Providence-Through a reciprocal partnership focused on teaching youth to use photography to define and understand the meaning of community.

Producing a Final Exhibition– using photographs and stories of local youth.

In a discussion about her own community of Jamaica Plain Kathleen Hirsch states. “Community wisdom begins with being encountered. Its teachers and lessons come in unexpected mostly humble forms and part of growing into a place is learning how to graft its native root system onto our hereto shiftless pattern of growth.”

Personally I love the image this quote evokes for me, that of an extensive root system, tangled and cluttered in some ways  yet beautiful and simple in others. This for me is the icon of community. A few weeks back while at a friends opening, the 2011 Newport Art Museum’s Annual Members’ Juried Exhibition, I encountered the work of an artist who’s name I do not know. Their piece was simple, a small plant with a tangled bush-like root system resembling a cloud shape, similar to the one pictured here. The plants delicate root system had been painted gold and mounted upside down so that that the plants root cloud sat atop the bush’s two main stalks. While viewing the piece I was intrigued by the new found ways in which our world can be interpreted when looked at from a different angle or through a different lens.

While I have been auditing classes this year from CCRI to Brown and everything in between few engage the community in a way that bridges the gap between the local college transplant and the local community member. As Kathleen suggestes in her piece A Home in the Heart of a City a we have to encounter our community to value its many assets. The Community Lens class is allowing its college students to graft the native root system of the community to their own learning experience finding teachers and lesson in unexpected and often times unintended situations. The Community Lens’ Class Blog chronicles these encounters, particularly the humbling lessons they gain from interacting with the City Arts student artists.

The Community Lens Blog

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Pt III- Art of Environmentalism

In Art, Business, Education, Photography on February 18, 2011 at 12:42 am

Fork Sculpture

“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.”

-Wendell Berry

For about two years now I have been creating and selling jewelry made from silverware. Every chance I get I work to tell the story of where my creative impetus for this medium came from (See previous 2 articles).  I however have yet to convey this message of environmental awareness in any cohesive manner while selling my work. The silverware I use in my jewelry creations often times come to me from friends and family members who do not know what to do with their mismatched eatery sets. When they pass them along to me they are partaking in a form of recycling by giving their often times personal family heirlooms a new life.If I run out of silverware from friend or find a particularly alluring pattern I will sometimes purchase silverware from Savers Thrift Store (a recycling project of its own) which has had a longstanding supportive relationship with the  Big Sisters Program in RI.

My Jewelry !

After collection, the silverware is then sorted and selected for upcycling ,as a necklace pendant, pair of earrings, ring or mini sculpture. In this process I am given creative license to re-imagine a life for this silverware as a decorative ornament that will highlight the aesthetic beauty created by the previous sculptor (the silverware designer). As I stated in my last article. The silverware I once revered also holds an ugly side, one which is wrought with the environmental implications wrecking havoc on our community today.

In terms of Environmental Awareness I have begun to take creative license in the creation of a tag that will feature the following graphic of the Gorham Silverware a map dated from 1920. This map is defined as a general map which includes depictions of the Gorahm Silverware factory campus layout and the Massapaug Cove/ Pond. I enjoy the historical /artistic nature of the graphic while recognizing its connection to our environmental issues.

1920 Goraham Site General Map

With the map on one side of the tag I have decided to feature the quote from EJLRI : For the nearly 100 years it operated, Gorham Silverware factory  used the pond and land around the factory as a dump for wastewater polluted with carcinogenic chemicals…

As lead is a widely recognized highly toxic child/containment known to be linked behavioral problems learning learning disabilities, hearing and speech impediments as well as seizures and death. I have chosen to focus the facts that will be listed below the quote on the tag on lead issues in Providence. This will allow the connection between silverware production in Providence and subsequent contamination particularly to lead to be drawn more clearly in my work.

In presenting some of these facts as part of my work, I hope to raise awareness about the seriousness of metals contamination in our city, particularly amongst our youth while using my interests in silverware as a source of inspiration. The Art of Environmentalism ie the tag I have visually designed here will be made available by the end of April and will serve to create a more holistic approach to the Social Justice nature of my work.

Below is some information on Lead Poisoning in the city of Providence and State of RI

In 2006 after construction on Alvarez High school had already begun a highly toxic slag pile, with high levels of lead and copper, was found on the banks of the Massapaug cove, Gorhams former factory site part of a Brownfield which shares land with Alvarez highchool. Under court order, Textron removed the slag pile, however the toxins are still present at the Gorham Manufacturing site and are of particular concern because they put already vulnerable populations at risk. Children and young adults, like the students attending Alvarez High School, are more vulnerable to toxins than adults and the fact that the school is located just feet from unremediated land undoubtedly makes these youth more susceptible to health issues. Article 1

Click on the Map to Enlarge

RI Kids count states that children absorb 30% to 75% of lead which reaches their digestive track, compared with 11% for adults. Poor nutritional status (particularly calcium, vitamin C, or iron deficiencies) increase an individuals susceptibility to lead poisoning by increasing lead absorption. Article 2

Providence Plan found that 1:6 Providence children under age 6 were exposed to lead in 2000. Statewide, 1:11 children under 6 were exposed to lead. Nationwide, this number was 1:25. These risks are unevenly distributed within the city based on racial, geographic, and economic factors. Article 3

RI Kids Count found that core cities (Central Falls, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence, West Warwick and Woonsocket ) had an 11% elevated lead level rate as opposed to the 4% rate for remaining cities. Article 2

Three Articles and a little under 2,500 words later I conclude the story behind my interest in and impetus for creating Jewelry fashioned from silverware.

Material Referenced in Above:

1 Center for Public Environmental Oversite: Providence Rhode Island Schools

2 RI Kids Count: Issue Brief Lead Poisoning

3 Providence Plan: Providence Neighborhood Profiles Lead Exposure