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“Inside Out” Reopens—Inside
by Allan Appel | Aug 7, 2013 10:34 am
Posted to: Arts & Culture, Visual Arts, East Rock
Laura Snow and Justin Robinson met a couple who made terrific Jamaican food at a deli on State Street. That deli is gone, and with it the couple too, but their images live on, along with the sense of neighborhood a unique public art project gave rise to.
That’s because last summer’s Inside Out New Haven, the outdoor portrait gallery beneath overpasses on Humphrey and State streets, lives again, but this time indoors where the weather and graffiti will have no chance to have at it.
Inside Out has become Inside Out Inside, as 25 of the large digital prints of East Rock faces now smile, peer, wink, and vamp at you from the Hilles Gallery at the Creative Arts Workshop (CAW) on Audubon Street.
A continuation of Inside Out but inside won the competition to be this summer’s installation viewable only from the outside during CAW’s summer break. So while the gallery will be closed, the pictures will be open and inviting, viewable from the street until Sept. 2.
With the guidance and energy of neighborhood activists like photographer Chris Randall and SeeClickFix’s Ben Berkowitz, the project morphed from planting living trees to to hoisting photos of living local humans on the peeling walls beneath the bridges.
The idea was that in the busy, honk-your-horn-stop-and-invite-folks-to-be-photographed process, a pretext would be created for people to meet neighbors they might not have spoken to before, and for pockets of East Rock often economically and racially separated to literally be bridged by portrait art.
The project has already had a continuation in a short documentary film by John Belanger in which Berkowitz is quoted saying, “The beauty in the project is not what it looks like but how it got there,” according to CAW press release.
It’s now arrived at CAW where Randall’s submission, at the suggestion of CAW’s gallery coordinator Abby Kundishora, won the competition for the summer installation.
CAW Executive Director Susan Smith was delighted with the installation. She recalled some less tame summer installations past, when an artist dropped 500 pounds of potatoes in the space, and when another artist, well, just lived in the windows for a month.
Inside Out‘s daring was more in its process and in its original location. Here in a gallery setting, Randall said, he found a new interest in the pictures. He has has hung the photos not with the fabled wheat paste but binder clips above and magnets at the bottom. In the lower gallery there is more space between the individual photos than was possible beneath the bridges. The light is also superb, so more detail is visible.
The other plus the installation provides is simply that these 25 images had been printed but never were hung beneath the bridges. So the faces, done as an ensemble portrait creation by photographers Randall, Ian Christmann, Jeffrey Kerekes, Al Muzzi, Kelly Jensen, Anthony DeCarlo, and Miles Lasater, are fresh and happy.
It makes you feel good just to hang out beneath their gazes.
For Laura Snow and Justin Robinson, who live on Humphrey Street and who contributed both money and sweat to the original installation and whose images were beneath the overpass, the exhibition had something metaphysical about it.
“I’ve met people who say to me, ‘We’ve never met but I saw your picture,’” she said.
Robinson said that by comparison to the scruffy and up-against-the-elements original, the current installation feels “pristine.”
Snow called the “family album” an opportunity for the energy and good feeling of that the project spawned to continue.
“New Haven is not that big. It’s a small enough big city so you feel like it [the exhibition] captures where you live in time and space,” Snow said.
She said she’d even like a coffee table book with the images for the project’s next iteration.
Randall said he thought the idea intriguing. Then the eternal question arose: Who’s going to pay for it? Stay tuned.
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This is very good photography. By the way where was the work printed and how was the resizing handled?
Thanks, Stephen. We were really lucky to work with so many talented local photographers.
We had them printed at Joesph Merritt Co. and didn’t really need to do anything special to re-size them. Just about every DSLR out there today is capable of producing an 4’x6’ image.
Allan, great job on the article. One minor correction: “Abby” should be spelled “Abbie”. Kundishora is correct.
They should have hung Kerekes’ portrait over the door but made his beard out of some woven material that people had to pus aside like a beaded curtain to enter the gallery.
On the outside it would just be a curtain, but inside it would look like everyone was entering through his beard.
Thanks Chris. I didn’t think my 16mp Fuji XE-1 could print anything approaching that size.
Thank you for including that beautiful photo of Sally and Gary. They definitely added ‘sunshine’ to our neighborhood, and are greatly missed.