Artists drawing story teller memories during the final night. From top left: Victor Stanwick, Jack Gerney, Nina Shalla, Kim Salt, Meredith Sladek. (Artists Phillip Mitchell and Kristi Pfister also participated. Photos by Shani Mitchell.)
As the project Drawing from Memory – Staten Island comes to a close there are lots of numbers, drawings, and interactions to process and consider. The title sums up the totals but what these numbers can’t reflect is the amount of support the project received from so many of you: Artists, members of the public, staff at Culture lounge, and my friends and family. Without your willingness to help, support, participate, and collaborate, none of this would be possible. So thanks! (BIG.)
This project worked in large part because of the place and people of Staten Island. The words “place” and “people” can be interpreted literally or conceptually. Memory exists in a mental space, yet it shapes and defines us. Our perceptions when we are young are interesting to us as adults in part because of how different we understand the world and our place in it. The opportunity to have an artist translate this experience adds in another layer of consideration and perception. The artist process is spotlighted and elevated to a realm of recognition and necessity I believe we all benefit from.
And continuing this theme, during my time in and out of Staten Island, I fell a little in love with the place and people. Coming from a small Village in upstate New York, I was continually surprised at the small town connectedness and pride of place. Each week, as I looked at the drawings and edited the recorded stories, I learned a little more about Staten Island neighborhoods and people, both past and present. I have heard that Staten Island is sometimes called the “forgotten borough” or worse. From my outsider perspective, perhaps the physical/geographic isolation of Staten Island has created a long term plus for it’s residents.
Though this iteration of the Drawing from Memory is now over, the project may happen again, in a slightly different form or in a new place. For now, this blog will serve as an archive, or a memory that later can be looked back on with a new perspective where fresh insights are possible. Onwards!