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2021 SPE Annual Conference: Imagining Legacy: Archives, Collections, and Memoria

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When Must We Say Yes? Low Budget, Community-University, Social Justice Projects for the Common Good

Panel with Liz Wuerffel and Aimee Tomasek

Friday, October 07 - 9:00AM to 10:30AM
Lindell Room B - Chase Park Plaza

Artists and media-makers are inundated with requests from community members and organizations to provide “free” services. How do we say no, and when must we say yes? In 2015, four area organizations asked to partner with art faculty to educate the public about homelessness in Porter County. The resulting project team identified and leveraged University and community relationships and resources to create a mobile exhibit, The Invisible Project. The Invisible Project makes visible local stories of homelessness through photographs, first-person audio/video stories, infographics, and historical narrative.

In this presentation, we will:

  • Consider the question: When must we say yes to a community request?;

  • Offer a brief overview of The Invisible Project and pre-existing community conflict about affordable housing and homelessness;

  • Illustrate how photography and audio/video stories were integral to achieving project goals, and how cyanotype was used as a conceptual and aesthetic design element;

  • Share lessons learned from working on a diverse project team whose members held differing goals and expectations, and incorporating students at a variety of skill levels into the project;

  • Discuss walking the line between authenticity and exploitation.


Aimee Tomasek
Aimee Tomasek
Liz  Wuerffel
Liz Wuerffel

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