Herb Ruffin, African American Studies Department Chair and associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, was interviewed for the WURD-FM (Philadelphia) story about the “100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre.” Ruffin, who is an expert on Black settlements in…
Urban Video Project expands media to include poetry, painting, animation, photography
Urban Video Project expands media to include poetry, painting, animation, photographyMarch 26, 2009Jemeli Tanuijetanui@syr.edu
As spring kicks off, the Urban Video Project (UVP) is expanding its portfolio to include new installations that feature work by local and national artists, poets and students.
The new work, to be on display from March 30 to mid-May, includes short animation films created by SU students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA); poetry by Syracuse poet Martin Walls, accompanied by historic photographs of the Solvay Process plant; streetscapes by San Francisco photographer Antonia Sousa; and artistic interpretation of the life of Harlem Renaissance painter Jacob Lawrence by 4th- and 5th-grade students from the Seymour Dual Language Academy on Syracuse’s west side.
The new works will be installed on UVP sites at the Monroe Building at 333 E. Onondaga St. and the Onondaga Historical Association building at 321 Montgomery St.
Like current art on display at UVP sites, such as the “Clouds” series by Diane S. Grimes, associate professor in the department of communication and rhetorical studies at VPA, all of the upcoming content is created to be brief and is grouped in themes. “Everything we put up can be experienced in a short amount of time,” says Denise Heckman, UVP academic director and associate professor of industrial and interaction design at VPA. “By including work by local elementary and college students, as well as our local newspaper photographers, we are hoping the UVP will function as a mirror back on the city, helping others experience Syracuse.”
The Urban Video Project (UVP) is a public arts initiative of Syracuse University and Time Warner Cable that aims to bring art to the streets and buildings of Syracuse’s Connective Corridor-the signature strip of cutting-edge cultural development connecting University Hill with downtown Syracuse-by projecting artwork onto local buildings daily from dusk to 11 p.m. The UVP currently projects at three locations: the Monroe Building at 333 E. Onondaga St., the Onondaga Historical Association Museum (OHA) at 321 Montgomery St. and an LED screen at the Syracuse Stage’s at 820 E. Genesee St. First established in 2007 by the student artist team Avalanche Collective in VPA, UVP has developed into one of the first permanent series of urban projection installations in the United States.
UVP offers free workshops for local artists, educators and arts organizations interested in learning how to use UVP venues to showcase artwork. For more information and to register, contact Daniela Mosko-Wozniak, UVP curatorial director, at email@example.com.
Following is a detailed description of current and upcoming installations at UVP:
Clouds (Ongoing)“Clouds” is an artistic projection of clouds against a changing afternoon sky taken through the window of a moving car by Diane S. Grimes, an associate professor in the department of communication and rhetorical studies in VPA. She took the photos on a trip between Massachusetts and Syracuse.
“In some of the pictures, you get the feeling of the openness of the sky around you as you travel and the road opening up ahead,” says Grimes. “In others you feel closed up in the car by the dark sky and rain.”
Grimes teaches courses in communication theory, small group communication, organizational communication, and race and gender.
Student Animations (March 29-April 4)The animations to be projected on UVP sites downtown consist of short stories created by VPA students and range from the artistic to historic. They were inspired by a combination of creative ideas and current events. The works were collected over a period of four years from projects done in the introductory experimental animation class, an introductory studio course that explores animation through the use of design, drawing and 3-D offered in VPA’s School of Art and Design.
The 30-40 animations submitted showcase a wide range of projects, from 12-hour to three-month time lapses of downtown Syracuse, group collaborations and animations inspired by newspaper articles, personal and political events and purely whimsical or humorous pieces. The students used a variety of materials and processes as they worked, including cut paper, sand, paint, charcoal, unconventional materials and found objects, finding a technique that best suited their style and vision.
“When I heard that UPV was looking for videos to project on building sites downtown, I thought this would be a great venue and opportunity for our students to have their work seen off campus and to a wider audience,” says Gail Hoffman, assistant professor in the Foundation Department in the School of Art and Design. “I also think in the future, this would open up new ways and strategies for the students to design and create animations specifically for public spaces. For instance, future classes could create animations that could interact with characters and narratives projected onto multiple buildings.”
Many of the animations tell simple stories that communicate a message in a short time span, such as animations of a bear eating honey, an orchid unfolding and depiction of seasonal changes in downtown Syracuse. “There’s a sense of surprise and excitement when one sees the variety of work,” says Hoffman. “It will be a visual delight for the community.”
The Solvay Process: Poems by Martin Walls (April 5-11; May 8-15)This exhibition features the work of local poet Martin Walls excerpted from his new book “The Solvay Process,” an introspective collection of poetry that explores Walls’ social life, including his observations of life while living in Central New York and in the Village of Solvay near Syracuse. Solvay is the home of the Solvay Process Plant, a soda ash manufacturing facility that closed in 1985. For the UVP exhibition, selected poetry from the book, such as “Ode to the Steelworkers,” “Route 298,” “Rock Salt” and “Post-Industrial City” will be combined with historical photographs of the Solvay Process Plant borrowed from the Solvay Public Library.
“I thought Martin’s use of the photographs was very unique in that he was tying it in with poetry,” says Cara Burton, MLS ’86 G’87, director of the Solvay Public Library. “The photographs Martin chose from the archives were both industrial photos of the plant, but they almost appear artistic from the angle they were taken.”
Walls, who was born in Brighton, England, moved to Solvay via Indiana in 1999. While working for Eagle Newspapers, he became founding editor of the Solvay-Geddes Express, reviving a community paper that had been out of print for 70 years. In addition to a community journalist, Walls has been a teacher, music journalist, magazine editor and soccer referee. He is now communications manager of the Syracuse Center of Excellence. This is Walls’ third book of poems. His two previous works are “Small Human Detail in Care of National Trust” (New Issues, 2000) and “Commonwealth” (March Street, 2005). Walls is a Witter Bynner Poetry Fellow of the U.S. Library of Congress.
“I’ve known Martin’s poetry for a long time and what I find striking is he mixes the English tradition with the Japanese tradition of short-form poetry in a way that is really effective,” says Phil Memmer, poet and author, as well as director of the YMCA arts branch that includes the Downtown Writers Program. Memmer also works as associate editor of the Tiger Bark Press of Rochester, N.Y., which is publishing “The Solvay Process.” “The combination of Martin’s poetry with the photographs from the plant makes this UVP exhibition simultaneously historic and artistic.”
Seen Through Our Eyes (April 12-18)“Seen Through Our Eyes” is a collection of colorful artwork depicting life as seen and understood by 4th- and 5th-grade students from Syracuse City School District’s Seymour Dual Language Academy, a pre-K through 5th grade school in the city’s Westside neighborhood. The student art work is the culmination of a collaborative project to study and interpret the work of Harlem Renaissance painter Jacob Lawrence, undertaken by the students with their art teacher, Kelly Moser; Diane Reedy, the school librarian/media specialist; and Rebecca Jackson, a dual language consultant. The project is aimed at helping students develop visual thinking skills by learning the value of observation in telling and preserving stories.
“We wanted our students to understand the value of observation and the need to develop and utilize strategies in viewing what goes on around them in their daily lives at home, at school and in their neighborhoods,” says Jackson. “Activities such as these will serve our students well by providing them with life-long skills that will enrich their souls and provide them with basic strategies and training that they can apply to other areas of study.”
“Streetscapes” by Antonia Sousa (April 19-25)“Streetscapes” is a collection of candid and captivating images that tell unique urban stories from cities in North and South America, taken by Antonia “Toni” Sousa, a pre-school teacher from San Francisco. Fascinated by photography since her childhood, Sousa first experimented with a Kodak Instamatic she got as a gift when she was 12. It wasn’t long after that first camera that she convinced her parents to meet her halfway in purchasing a 35-mm camera, thus beginning her life long pursuit of photography. Sousa’s work, shot from streets in San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, shows scenes from day-to-day life that many experience without pausing, until captured forever in her film.
“Most of my work is from walking. I see things and I try to capture it through film,” Sousa says. “When I have my camera and I am out walking in the city, the world just becomes one of color, light, shadows and shapes. It doesn’t always happen, but that moment when you know you have caught what you are seeing and feeling is extraordinary.”
Sousa learned about exhibiting her work at the UVP through Grimes, who is a childhood friend. “It’s just so amazing that people that you don’t know are going to see your images, I’m pretty excited,” says Sousa.