Category Archives: Arts

TeAda Presents “Delicious Reality: The Immigration Experience”

By Mackenzie Farrell

Delicious Reality

Leilani Chan’s voice fills with enthusiasm as she describes the inspiration behind TeAda Productions upcoming show Delicious Reality: “The stories coming out of these (immigrant) groups are so exciting and raise such important issues.” TeAda partnered with two different groups, ROC-LA (Restaurant Opportunities Center-Los Angeles) and SEACA (Southeast Asian Community Alliance), to create workshops for immigrants. These workshops became a place to share stories and engage in important discussions, including dialogue about work conditions. Delicious Reality portrays these immigrants’ stories in a common immigrant job setting—the kitchen of a restaurant. Delicious Reality’s tagline has become, “who really cooks your food?,” encouraging California locals to attend the play at Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica to learn more about a kitchen culture that is lively and rich with history. The play runs May 10th-19th, and more information can be found at www.teada.org.

Drawing Powerful Women: graphic novelist Maureen Burdock

BY ANGELIQUE SZYMANEK

Pastel from "Maisa & the Bad Muslim Girls." By Maureen Burdock.

Pastel from “Maisa & the Bad Muslim Girls.” By Maureen Burdock.

When one thinks about comic books, images of muscle-bound heroes, supernatural villains and busty damsels-in-distress are among the expected visual tropes that come to mind. In the graphic novels of artist Maureen Burdock, however, battles between men bent on destroying the world and the adventures of those who fight to defend it are replaced with stories of women who overcome real-life issues of sexual violence, domestic abuse and murder, among others. In the brightly colored world of comics, themes drawn so directly from the world around us are a rare encounter and, most certainly, those of gendered violence have yet to find their way into the hyper-masculine spaces of the graphic novel. Burdock has created a compelling alternative, however, in her series of comic books entitled The F Word Project: Five Feminist Fables for the 21st Century. These women are both victims and their own heroes in their encounters with various forms of gender-based violence.

Born in Germany in 1970, Burdock emigrated to the U.S. with her mother at the age of seven. The two fled to escape domestic violence but Maureen continued to endure various forms of abuse and, from an early age, used art as a way to navigate these painful experiences. While she was working in New Mexico, Burdock was introduced to the world of comic books by members of Seis Cinco Seis Comics Collective. When asked why she turned to this particular medium, Burdock replied that she wanted to “make work that is accessible to a broad public and can be disseminated in venues including-but also beyond-galleries and museums. … The juxtaposition between images and text,” she continues, “can also be particularly potent and evocative.”

Burdock began work on The F Word Project in 2006 and, thus far, three of the five books have been completed: Maisa and the Bad Muslim Girls, Marta and the Missing, and Mona and the Little Smile. Each tells the story of a woman facing the threat of violence who, through bravery, intellect, and the use of a bit of magic, is able to defeat the evil characters and dark forces perpetrating that violence. Burdock has described her superheroines as “extraordinary/ordinary women” whose “bodies are not idealized or sexualized.” It is important to the artist that these women defy the usual stereotypes not only of comic book lore but within society more broadly. They manage this by refusing to be victims and, instead, they take control over their own bodies and destinies. They also provide a much needed forum in which the difficult issues of the femicides in Juarez, child molestation and honor killings can each be grappled with. “Far from depicting victims or people being defined by their unfortunate circumstances,” Burdock explains, “my stories are snapshots of powerful women in motion. Real women and men who I collaborate with to create these stories are my inspiration.”

Artwork from "Maisa & the Bad Muslim Girls." By Maureen Burdock.

Artwork from “Maisa & the Bad Muslim Girls.” By Maureen Burdock.

This mission to create dialogue, community building, and awareness constitute the “F” in The F Word Project as, according to the artist, being a feminist simply means believing in equality and in creating coalitions that help to ”combat inequality, colonialism, the military industrial complex, et cetera.” Creating the possibility for healing and collectivity, according to Burdock, takes both recognizing that men are also affected by gendered violence and that “galvanizing communities to act in solidarity means overcoming gender binaries as well as other phobias and generalizations.” So far, Burdock’s goal to reach as diverse an audience as possible seems to be within reach as the novellas have already been exhibited in thirteen cities internationally and the books themselves have been used in several universities as part of gender studies classes. Although it would seem that the art world is far from accepting comic books as a form of “high art,” Burdock makes it clear that she “cares more about making work that LIVES, moves, affects people than making work that tickles reviewer’s fancies or looks mysteriously and compellingly incomprehensible in the fetishized white cube environment.”

Burdock is currently working on the final two books of the series, the next of which will address the subject of female genital mutilation. Although the topics Burdock chooses to address are dark and at times very difficult to face, her beautiful illustrations and courageous narratives manage to bring hope and even humor to these terrible realities. As she describes, “None of the women in my fables are ‘fixed’ within the context of the problems they face. Instead, they galvanize their families and communities to collaboratively create change. These stories are hopeful and the heroines actively shape and reform their communities with their intelligence, humor, kindness, and with a bit of magical realism.”

Oil from "Mona & the Little Smile." By Maureen Burdock.

Oil from “Mona & the Little Smile.” By Maureen Burdock.

Maureen Burdock currently resides in Berkeley, California where she is a student at California College of the Arts in San Francisco working on completing MA degrees in visual and critical studies as well as studio art. She is also the founding director of the first US/San Francisco chapter of the London-based comics forum Laydeez do Comics, the first women-led graphic novel forum in the UK. Burdock also continues an independent freelance illustration practice and can be contacted via her website. Her her work is also included in the feminist art database of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center of the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

If you want to make a difference on these issues, follow the links below to purchase Maureen’s art and support her career, or to donate time or money to three organizations that are engaged in combatting violence against women.

The Artist Who Believed No Dream Impossible

BY ADIA WHITE

Inocente.

Inocente.


Who says we are defined by our life circumstances? Certainly not fifteen-year old artist Inocente. Despite living homeless and undocumented in San Diego since the age of six, Inocente faces the world with bright spirals painted on the corners of her eyes and large flowers adorning the crown of her head. She paints on whatever canvas she can get her hands on—jeans, tennis shoes, sweatshirt, face.

“Out there in the world, usually things aren’t very colorful, so maybe if they were a little bit more colorful, they’d make people just a little bit more happy,” Says Inocente in the recently released documentary of the same name.

Yet despite her relentless effort to make the world just a little bit brighter for all of us, homelessness and lack of legal documentation have pushed her to the darkest margins of society. Thanks to filmmakers Sean and Andrea Nix Fine, whose documentary, Inocente, follows the journey of this young artist, we can enjoy Inocente’s vivid colors and unique shapes. Their documentary paints a portrait of the challenges faced by homeless and undocumented youth living in the U.S., a portrait as vivid, but not nearly so bright, as Inocente’s paintings.

"If Only They Could See" by Inocente.

“If Only They Could See” by Inocente.


According to the Inocente documentary website, there are 1.5 million homeless youths and 1.8 million undocumented youths living in the U.S. today.  Twenty-five percent of homeless youths witness violence within in their families, a statistical category from which Inocente is not exempt.

Although Inocente’s home life has been bleak, her paintings are anything but.  The colors she paints reflect her passion for life despite the obstacles that come with waking each day. Her optimism comes from a determination to start the day with what makes her most happy, painting.  Each morning she applies her makeup with a paintbrush. Black and red triangles, spirals, or dots accentuate her eyes. Her makeup is a totem of her relentless commitment to pursuing her dreams.

Inocente credits her untamed imagination with the uncanny vibrancy of her art. “I like to look out the window and imagine, what if the trees could talk, or the people had super powers… I have a lot of impossible dreams, but I still dream them.”

Some would have considered Inocente’s appearance on stage at the Oscars last Sunday an impossible dream. Nevertheless, the film her art inspired won the Academy Award for best Documentary Short of 2013. Dressed in an elegant white dress, Inocente entered the stage along with filmmakers Sean and Andrea Nix Fine to receive their Oscar.

While Inocente’s optimism and imagination have prevailed, her success still remains exceptional. Inocente was fortunate enough to belong to A.R.T.S., a program designed to give homeless youths access to the arts. A.R.T.S—an acronym for A Reason To Survive—gave her a place that felt like home and allowed her to fill an otherwise grey world with color. Still, millions of youths endure struggles similar to Inocente’s, and without access to such programs. Funding for public arts education, which gave Inocente a life when she felt she had no other, is often an early target for budget cuts.  Even private, non-profit arts programs struggle to find funding needed to provide their services to youths. For Inocente, arts education allowed the beautiful world she dreamed of survive in her imagination when it could not manifest in her life.

My personal favorite of Inocente’s paintings is entitled “The Lost Planet.” In this piece, multicolored stars glimmer behind mountains garnished with glitter. The Lost Planet is meant to represent a land where children’s dreams reside after they are forsaken. When I see this painting I imagine how many dreams wind up there, dreams abandoned by children whose life circumstances forced them to give up dreaming far too early. Most of all I imagine how so many simple dreams, dreams like having a home, could be prevented from ending up on the lost planet in the first place.

"The Lost Planet" by Inocente.

“The Lost Planet” by Inocente.

Mending communities: fabric artist Clara Wainwright

BY JEREMY OLSEN

"Mending Baghdad" by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

“Mending Baghdad” by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

Please enjoy listening to our interview.

When communities have stories to be told or wounds to be healed—and all of them do—art offers a powerful answer, a way to preserve history, a means for expressing cultural priorities, or even a sort of talisman to help people through difficult times. One might look at the AIDS Quilt as an embodiment of all three.

Fabric artist Clara Wainwright has used her art in other charitable ways, but this idea of using it to build, unite, and heal communities is a hallmark of her body of work. Witness “Mending Baghdad” (above), which Wainwright created in response to a photo of a war-battered Baghdad she saw on the cover of a newspaper during the first Gulf War. She left the quilt unfinished, gluing down pieces instead of sewing them, so that she could then use the work as a centerpiece of discussion or a catalyst for emotional release as other people finished the quilt. At various workshops around the U.S. and the U.K., participants “mended” the city of Baghdad, a potent metaphor for their sympathy and sorrow for the innocent lives lost or disrupted in the war, and a starting point for exploring their understanding of the war and its consequences.

A prominent New England textile artist, Wainwright has pieces in the permanent collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Art and others. And not long ago, Art Corps named her as one of their two 2012 Creative Activists. We hope you enjoy hearing her talk about her art and how it fits like a puzzle piece into the world around her.

"Surrounded By Water" by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

“Surrounded By Water” by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

Chloe Flower performs “Revolution”

Pianist Chloe Flower, with the help of legendary producer Babyface, has married classical music and hip-hop in her song “Revolution.”

Supporting Chloe means supporting an artist who is giving the world more than just wonderful music. She is a fervent and long-time supporter of sexual slavery survivor Somaly Mam, of the the Somaly Mam Foundation, and of the battle to end human trafficking. Don’t miss our interview with Chloe, where she talks about her music and about the foundation.

VISIT
Chloe Flower’s site
BUY
Chloe Flower’s music
VISIT
the Somaly Mam Foundation
DONATE to
the Somaly Mam Foundation
VOLUNTEER with
the Somaly Mam Foundation

CREDITS

Jeremy Scott Olsen post audio

Jason E. Johnson editor

Dalton Gaudin director / director of photography

Lauren Thorne producer
Ryan Metcalf supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

“Revolution”
from “Prelude in G minor, op. 23, no.5″
composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff
performed by Chloe Flower
piano arrangements by Chloe Flower
drum programming by Tim & Bob
additional arrangements by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds
produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Tim & Bob
copyright 2012 by Chloe Flower and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds

with great appreciation for our all-volunteer crew for their talent, dedication, professionalism and time

© copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

Raechel Running: Light in the Shadows

BY Deborah K. Hirsch

Raechel Running © Cris Mitchell

“The Borderlands is a place that inspires those of us who look for the light in the shadows.” — Raechel Running

Raechel Running’s life is a river winding through contiguous regions, braiding currents from each to create multicultural art. A photographer, she assembles images from throughout the American Southwest, Mexico, and South America, incorporating textiles, paint, and small objects to create multimedia experiences of people and places. Her compositions astonish; their beauty is original, sometimes iconic, and always bold.

Much of Raechel’s portraiture and other compositions capture popular culture in an at once desolate and vivid part of the world: the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. There, everyday elements of cultures combine, even as the politics of national identity–Mexican, Anglo, Indigenous–contrast acutely. Raechel’s lens interprets everything from borderland cowboy culture, farm life in the valley, and small town relics to the wild places of rivers and deserts, and does so by blending artifacts of the old and the new to be found in all of these places.

“I believe words and images are stronger used together,” she says. “Since I was twelve years old, I’ve kept journals and notebooks. I integrate the journaling process into my photo illustrations. Sometimes a quote or an image I’ve found inspires a new way to tell the stories.”

Photo by Raechel Running

Leaving her home in Flagstaff, Arizona, Raechel spent five years in Northern Mexico’s Sierra Madre Range and in rural villages throughout Chihuahua and Sonora. She has lived in the Casas Grandes Valley, an archaeologically and agriculturally rich area only 100 miles south of the US-Mexico border. About this, she says, “As I learned more about the history of the region, my work changed. I went into the fields and deep into The Sierras. I visited ranches and rodeos, cock fights, spiritual ceremonies and documented everyday life.”

Paquimé, as the Casas Grandes Valley was called in Pre-Colombian times, was a trade and cultural hub among indigenous peoples who arrived from all directions. It’s still a place of migrations and fertile valleys, and home to a center for artists who are reviving the distinctive ceramic art of the village of of Mata Oritz.

Photo by Raechel Running
A photo collage honoring the rain symbols from Mesomerica and the Greater Southwest, and the friendship between US anthropologist Spencer MacCallum and Mexican master potter Juan Quezada.

More than 450 potters now work in Mata Oritz, a village that was on the verge of desertion just thirty years ago. This renaissance began with an inspired friendship between native resident and master potter, Juan Quezada, who experimented with local clay and pigments, and US anthropologist, Spencer MacCallum. They have worked together for nearly four decades. Today, Mata Oritz potters are world renowned.

In 2006, MacCallum invited Raechel to be an artist-in-residence, to live and work in Mata Oritz, in an 1870 adobe house. The dream was to create a center for travelers, artists, and researchers interested in the region. Today, the village is home to a renaissance in the Mata Oritz (Paquimé) ceramic arts and the development of contemporary iterations of that ancient style. Raechel has since contributed numerous photographs, as well as website design and writing to the success of this dream, known as the Center for Casas Grandes Studies.

Photo by Raechel Running

Most recently, Raechel helped organize an exhibit in partnership with the Flagstaff Cultural Partners, Borderlands Sierra Club, Northern Arizona Univeristy, and volunteers from No More Deaths. The dynamic community exhibit is titled “BEYOND BORDERS, The Fence, The People, The Land” and explores the cultural and land connections of the Southwestern U.S. and Northern Mexico Borderlands.

The sister exhibit, Raechel’s third exhibition of her visual odyssey in Mexico, is titled “NEPANTLA: Tierra Entre Medio/Between Worlds”, and is at the Flagstaff Photography Center through the end of November. It is a response to the hardships and tensions in the region, and the survival of beauty amidst it all. Raechel says, “In my art and activism I try to overcome despair and to make visual connections for people to foster kinship and hope in these times of change. Borders exist between people and countries but it is also the place where we can unite.”

Raechel is now collaborating with author Craig Childs on a project that combines words and images. The work is supported by The Better Bombshell, a publication project that aims to generate insights into emerging female role models.

Photo by Raechel Running

Raechel uses her work to advance many non-profit organizations that serve social and environmental needs. Among them is the Mexico Program of One Heart World-Wide, which trains community members and outreach workers to provide obstetrical and neonatal care to indigenous women in Mexico’s Copper Canyon region. These women, called Tarahumara (or Rarámuri in their own language), represent only 3% of the Mexico’s population but account for 38% of all maternal deaths.  Most live in small settlements at least three hours away from the nearest health post and a least a day away from the nearest facility equipped to handle deliveries.

One Heart President and Founder, Arlene Samen, says, “Raechel has done so much to highlight the plight of the Tarahumara women in the Copper Canyon, who die needlessly at home due to lack of access to care. Through her photography, Raechel has brought much-needed attention to the cause.”

As Raechel puts it herself:  ”What I have learned from my time in Mexico is, it’s not about being afraid but about the spirit of resiliency and courage to dream against the odds. ”

Raechel Running’s works can be seen online at raechelrunning.com and issuu.com/rmrunning, as well as on websites of some of the organizations she supports.

Organizations Raechel supports with her work:

One Heart World-Wide | www.oneheartworld-wide.org
One Heart World-Wide improves maternal and neo-natal health among indigenous, Tarahumara communities in Mexico.

Somos La Semilla | www.somoslasemilla.org
Somos La Semilla is a grassroots organization that works in Southern Arizona and Mexican border towns to create healthy food networks.

Rancho Feliz | www.ranchofeliz.com | One Heart page
Rancho Feliz is a residential-educational community in Agua Prieta, Mexico.

The Amazon Aid Foundation | Raechel Running bio
The Amazon Aid Foundation is a non-profit that raises awareness about environmental issues in the Amazon through creative collaborative art, music, and science projects.

Published July 11, 2013

Breaking silences: musician Chloe Flower

Classical pianist Chloe Flower has taken Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in G Minor,” and with the help of producers that include the legendary Babyface (aka Kenny Edmonds), arranged it as a hip-hop instrumental. That’s right, classical crossover into hip-hop. Her new single is called “Revolution,” and Flower certainly hopes she’s on to something big, a musical revolution which could bring classical music closer to the mainstream. But that’s just part of the story.

Don’t miss Chloe Flower giving an exclusive live performance of “Revolution” for The Lamp Project.

Flower is donating 100% of her proceeds to the Somaly Mam Foundation to combat sexual slavery and human trafficking. Millions of people around the world are sold into slavery each year; girls enslaved in brothels can be as young as three. Three years old. Chloe Flower stumbled upon the global sex trade as a happy tourist in Cambodia, lazily choosing to skip her plane flight and stay put in Siem Reap a while longer. When the plane she would have boarded crashed and all aboard died, she decided she was here for a reason. She rented a bike, and in riding around the area she came across what looked like brothels. She began researching the issue and found Somaly Mam, survivor of sexual slavery and already the founder of AFESIP, who would soon launch a U.S.-based organization to broaden awareness of and support for efforts to end these atrocities. That new organization would be The Somaly Mam Foundation, and Flower has been a staunch supporter of it—and a friend of Somaly Mam’s—ever since.

And so, deeply rooted in this awareness of a horrendous global criminal enterprise and her long-time involvement in efforts to eradicate it, Flower’s song, “Revolution,” together with the coming album of which it is a part, tells the story of Somaly Mam’s own personal revolution, overthrowing the torturous events of her youth to become the saviour of so many girls and women trapped on that same dark path. And it speaks of her hope for a larger revolution against the people and forces that enable and perpetuate human trafficking worldwide. Flower acknowledges that it’s a difficult topic to bring up in a conversation at work or with friends, and hopes her music starts those conversations and contributes to awareness.

Please, enjoy this interview with Chloe Flower by filmmaker Dalton Gaudin. You’ll hear more about her and about the Somaly Mam Foundation, and you’ll get to hear some of her fantastic piano playing. Find more in the exclusive live performance Flower gave for The Lamp Project. And if this cause moves you, remember that you have the power to help. Please follow the links below to visit the SMF, donate, or volunteer. Share our interview, or share what you learn about human trafficking. Or buy Flower’s music, and your money will benefit a tremendous cause while supporting an artist who has stood by that cause for years.

VISIT
Chloe Flower’s site
BUY
Chloe Flower’s music
VISIT
the Somaly Mam Foundation
DONATE to
the Somaly Mam Foundation
VOLUNTEER with
the Somaly Mam Foundation

CREDITS

Felix Lau music editor
Brandon Proulx sound editor / re-recording mixer
Jeremy Scott Olsen sound supervisor

Jason E. Johnson editor

Dalton Gaudin director / director of photography

Dalton Gaudin interview written and conducted by

Lauren Thorne producer
Ryan Metcalf supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

Hayley Welgus and the Somaly Mam Foundation photographs
used with permission and gratitude

“Revolution”
from “Prelude in G minor, op. 23, no. 5″
composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff
performed by Chloe Flower
piano arrangements by Chloe Flower
drum programming by Tim & Bob
additional arrangements by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds
produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Tim & Bob
copyright 2012 by Chloe Flower and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds

with great appreciation for our entire all-volunteer crew—and their talent, dedication, professionalism and time
© copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

Anne Harris performs “Lullaby”

Singer-songwriter-fiddler Anne Harris was kind enough to play a song for us and let us share it with you. Here she is performing “Lullaby” with just her fiddle and her voice.

Supporting Anne means supporting an artist who is giving the world more than just wonderful music. She works with a number of good causes in addressing important social issues. In our interview with her she talks about her involvement with Coat Angels, who are working hard to provide winter coats to disadvantaged school children in Chicago.

VISIT
Anne’s site
BUY
Anne’s music
VISIT
Coat Angels
DONATE to
Coat Angels
VOLUNTEER with
Coat Angels

Watch our interview with Anne Harris.

CREDITS

Jeremy Scott Olsen post audio

Jason E. Johnson editor

Dalton Gaudin director / director of photography

Lauren Thorne producer
Ryan Metcalf supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

“Lullaby”
music and lyrics by Anne Harris
performed by Anne Harris
album version performed by Anne Harris (vocals, fiddle), Chris Siebold (guitar), Greg Nergaard (bass), Rich Stitzel (drums)
copyright 2008 by Anne Harris

with great appreciation for our entire all-volunteer crew—and their talent, dedication, professionalism and time

© copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

A WARMING EFFECT: MUSICIAN ANNE HARRIS

BY JEREMY OLSEN

In music and in speaking out for a cause, it helps to have a voice backed by passion and conviction. It’s not so much that the voice carries further, but rather that its impact is felt more deeply. Ohio-born, Chicago-based Anne Harris puts this into practice for both music and great causes. And she does it with not one, but two voices: the warm, soulful crooning of her own vocal cords and the exuberant wail of her fiddle.

Don’t miss Anne Harris in an exclusive live performance of “Lullaby” for The Lamp Project.

In 2006, friends of Harris launched Coat Angels, a non-profit organization to provide warm coats for disadvantaged school children in Chicago. In the years since, they’ve helped over a thousand kids thanks in part to Anne’s own involvement, which includes donating her time for benefit concerts.

Please, enjoy this interview with Anne by filmmaker Dalton Gaudin. You’ll hear more about her and about Coat Angels, and you’ll be treated to some of her music. You can hear more of her music in this exclusive live performance for The Lamp Project. And if this cause moves you, please follow the links below to visit the site, donate, or volunteer. Or buy Anne’s music and you will be supporting a musician who is truly putting her powerful voices to good use.

CREDITS

Felix Lau music editor
Jeremy Scott Olsen sound editor / re-recording mixer

Jason E. Johnson editor

Dalton Gaudin director / director of photography

Dalton Gaudin interview written and conducted by

Lauren Thorne producer
Ryan Metcalf supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

Aigars Lapsa, Simona Capaldi, Susan Ryan photographs
used with permission and gratitude

“Lullaby”
music and lyrics by Anne Harris
performed by Anne Harris (vocals, fiddle), Chris Siebold (guitar), Greg Nergaard (bass), Rich Stitzel (drums)
copyright 2008 by Anne Harris

“Leaves Turnin’”
music and lyrics by Anne Harris
performed by Anne Harris
copyright 2001 by Anne Harris

with great appreciation for our entire all-volunteer crew—and their talent, dedication, professionalism and time
 

© copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

Unmovable: Photos by Kelly Creedon

BY SUSAN CASSIDY

Kelly Creedon ©Stephanie Ewens

There’s an intimacy that comes from seeing people in their homes, surrounded by their possessions. And when people are struggling to hold onto those homes, every detail becomes even more revealing: family photos hanging slightly askew on the walls; a cat curled up on a carefully made bed; household items scattered on countertops—the particulars of day-to-day life that anyone with a roof securely over their head might take for granted. Boston-based documentary photographer Kelly Creedon captures these details in her current project, “We Shall Not Be Moved.” The website and traveling exhibit tell the stories of people in Boston’s working-class and low-income neighborhoods facing foreclosure and eviction in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis. In partnership with community organization City Life/Vida Urbana, Creedon brings these stories to life in color photographs, supplemented by text, audio, and video, capturing the moment in which embattled tenants and homeowners become activists and community leaders.

©Kelly Creedon

In exhibiting her work, Creedon hangs portraits of people in their homes, alone and isolated, followed by images of them meeting with neighbors, sharing their stories, and eventually taking to the streets. The arrangement of images mirrors the journey many of her subjects take as they move beyond their own personal struggles to join a larger movement.

Before diving into the work of photographing this journey, Creedon sat in on weekly meetings at City Life, at which as many as 80 to 100 people gather to share their stories and learn how to help themselves and each other through collective action. She notes that people come to City Life looking for a way to pay an affordable rent or mortgage to stay in their homes—they’re not looking for handouts.

“I don’t think people are dismissing the question of personal responsibility,” Creedon says, “but they come to realize that there was an entire industry that was behaving irresponsibly.”

©Kelly Creedon

When she started creating images for the project, Creedon talked with City Life members like Reggie Fuller and Louanna Hall. As the only remaining tenants in a foreclosed building that has suffered both a fire and a violent assault on the premises, they were at a loss for what to do when neither the landlord nor the bank would take responsibility for the property. Through their involvement with City Life, they have become outspoken advocates for themselves and for others facing housing displacement, taking part in organized protests throughout Boston.

Marshall Cooper, 75, followed a similar trajectory from hopelessness and frustration to inspiration and a sense of purpose. As the primary caregiver for his ailing parents, he was unable to keep up with the rapidly rising mortgage payments on his house, which went into foreclosure in 2010. But Cooper has refused to leave his home. Working with a legal defense team, he’s fighting to stay there. He has also become a community leader through his collaboration with City Life, which he refers to as his family. Creedon says that even members who lose the fight to keep their own homes often continue working with the organization, because of the relationships they’ve built with others in the community.

“We Shall Not Be Moved” has traveled throughout Boston and New York, providing further opportunities for people to get their stories heard—many of the individuals who appear in Creedon’s work attend the exhibits and speak to attendees. Creedon says this is one of the most rewarding parts of the project.

“I really enjoy watching people see themselves on the wall in a gallery, or hear their own story in a presentation,” she says. “In seeing themselves reinterpreted that way, through someone else’s eyes, they have a different understanding of the power that they have, that their story has and their voice has. It’s a powerful thing to witness the way people transform through that relationship.”

©Kelly Creedon

Creedon is looking to take “We Shall Not Be Moved” on the road to cities in the South and Midwest, and she’s also at work on new projects that will explore the faces and stories behind issues like workers’ and immigrants’ rights.

“The majority of people I’m documenting aren’t in the mainstream narrative we’re seeing in the media and the press,” Creedon says. “They appreciate that someone would take the time to ask them to tell their story and to lift up their story in a public way…and I really like being the person who gets to show up and ask those questions.”

©Kelly Creedon

We Shall Not Be Moved | http://weshallnotbemoved.net/