I am not exactly the most artistically inclined person. While I love going to galleries and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and could spend hours staring at a sculpture on the street, my own art is usually limited to hand-made greeting cards and coloring books. Therefore I never imagined that part of my Haverford House experience would be spent organizing, designing, and setting up an exhibit of photographs for the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship Cafe and the Multicultural Center, both located in Stokes Hall. Yet these photographs are also beyond the ordinary, they are works of art that were created by mothers on public assistance in Philadelphia.
These women are part of a project called Witnesses to Hunger, which is project that is run out the Drexel School of Public Health. Witnesses to Hunger brought together 40 mothers and had them document their lives through digital photography. Through presenting these images at Haverford we are working to open up dialog on campus about public assistance and hunger and how do we choose to recognize or to ignore these issues that are a reality for many families in the city that is a few miles from Haverford’s gates.
For me, this project represents what Haverford House should be all about. I am collaborating with two of my house-mates to put on this exhibit and discussion and we in turn, are being supported both financially and organizationally (not to mention emotionally) through the Hurford Humanities Student Arts Fund and the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. We are working with professors, students, staff, advocates and residents in Philadelphia, and with each other to connect Haverford students to Philadelphia in a way that provokes conversation, reflection, and potentially action. These photographs are both beautiful and powerful and are not always easy to look at; they are reminders of poverty, desperation, and hope.
While the next few days before our exhibit goes up are sure to be stressful ones, filled with levels, sticky corners, mat board, frustration, and late nights. Yet we will keep at it, because we know that on this Wednesday evening, looking into the faces of both the photographers and the Haverford community members, it will all be worth it.
We hope to see you at the panel (Wednesday 12/3, at 7:30 in Stokes Auditorium) and checking out the exhibit which will run in the CPGC Cafe and Multicultural Center from December 3rd until December 19th. Please contact me at email@example.com with any questions or thoughts and check out the Haverford calendar listing.