Reception and discussion held for We The People
Journalist Rico Washington and photographer Shino Yanagawa, who created the “We The People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words” photojournalism project now on exhibit in the Gordon Parks Gallery, held a reception on Monday, April 29, at the College’s John Cardinal O’Connor Campus in the South Bronx.
The special event was attended by more than 75 faculty members, staff, and students from all six of the School of New Resources campuses. The reception and discussion that followed were videotaped by a film crew from BronxNet News.
Washington and Yanagawa were interviewed extensively by a reporter from the cable network. School of New Resources Dean Darryl Jones, JOC Campus Director Samuel Lilly, and Castle Gallery Director Katrina Rhein, as well as students attending the reception were also filmed by BronxNet News.
Washington said the project is inspired by the documentarian works of Jacob Riis, Gordon Parks, and Ruiko Yoshida. “Our aim is to explore and challenge the stigmas and stereotypes associated with blacks and Latinos in New York City’s public housing community,” Washington said.
Beginning in 2009, Washington and Yanagawa, both former residents of housing projects themselves, facilitated a series of candid interviews and photo shoots throughout New York City. With interviews and photographs of over 50 current and former residents, the artists aimed “to lift the ubiquitous cloak of darkness cast over the city’s housing projects,” Washington said.
The exhibit includes interviews and photos with notable former NYCHA residents such as Emmy Award-winning news reporter and Young Lords founder Felipe Luciano, seminal hiphop icon Afrika Bambaataa, acclaimed photographer Jamel Shabazz, and author/cultural critic/filmmaker Nelson George.
Following introductions by Dean Jones and a brief presentation of their work by Washington and Yanagawa, the artists answered a series of insightful questions from the students, many of whom live today in projects or are former residents.
The students compared and contrasted their own experiences, told stories of the living conditions in their neightborhood, and articulated why living in their communities was not the stereotype perceived by others. Many SNR students and former residents even today still call their NYCHA project home.