A fascinating multimedia exhibit detailing the exploration of eight New York City ethnic enclaves, is on display in the Pomerantz Art and Design Center lobby until November 28. The rich texture of neighborhoods captured in “Culture Captures: NYC,” was documented by an interdepartmental student team this Spring.
The displays include photo essays, digital composites, video interviews, storyboards, animation and digital publication. There’s perhaps no more appropriate a place for such an exhibit than FIT.
“I love it. It speaks to what New York City is. It beautifully captures the diversity and energy of the City, and of FIT—At FIT we’re an example of that diversity,” says Joanne Arbuckle, Dean, School of Art & Design.
Working under an interdisciplinary grant from the School of Art & Design, freshmen from Communication Design and Photography departments researched, observed and captured images and drawings of populations in Astoria, Brighton Beach, Chinatown, Crown Heights, Greenpoint, Jackson Heights, Spanish Harlem and Flushing.
“I thought Chinatown was for tourists,” says Communications freshman Bea Saludo. “Every time I’d go to Chinatown with my family it was to eat and leave. We never observed the surroundings.” Saludo, whose study was on Chinatown, was keen to architectural detail and family gatherings—observations that had escaped her on visits there with family.
“It’s about highlighting cultural background specific to a neighborhood and celebrating those differences. It’s about offering an enhanced understanding of neighborhoods that you know are there but haven’t always seen with a penetrating, discerning eye,” says Communication Design Prof. Christie Shin who directed the project.
Communications Design student Nancy Martinez focused on the Greek culture experience in Astoria. “The idea that everything links back to their roots was something really powerful. We are here, but within ourselves. We don’t forget where we, our parents, or our grandparents came from,” she says.
While the students recognize New York City as home to populations from all points of the compass, the preservation of cultural enclaves was eye-opening.
“I could not tell the difference between Chinatown and China,” said Man-Ping Wu, who grew up in South Africa and lived in China. “I knew New York City was a melting post, but the assignment got me deeper into a specific neighborhood…You don’t hear about these neighborhoods specifically.”
“It’s a detailed and anecdotal approach that leads to a story, a fuller description of a lifestyle, of ordinary people in motion” says Prof. Shin.