'A Sense of Place, A Sense of Community'
Wing Huie has been using photography for over a decade to unite communities and allow them to realize what connects them to where they live. Huie talked of when his passion for photography began and how he developed his photography skills because of a passion for seeing people in a new perspective. Huie enjoys photographing people in their natural environments because it reveals more about who they are and what defines them. Huie and Cate Vermeland spoke about what community has meant to their lives and how they use their art to portray and unite community. When they talk about the projects they have done with photography in the community, it is very clear that they are passionate about uniting people in artistic, natural ways.
Huie has done multiple projects in which he placed photographs among neighborhood areas that are major places of community in the twin cities. Huie's first project like the one described took place in the frogtown neighborhood. He took pictures of people in the community doing their everyday tasks; within the realm of their natural environments. He then put the pictures up in the community after a few years of taking the photographs. The photographs have since inspired other similar projects because of their wild success among the community and the media. Since Huie's first project in frogtown, he has now completed two other similar projects, which includes the lake st and university ave project. In his last two projects he used large photos of people in that community that have a connection to that place and asked local businesses to place the photos in storefront windows. Not only have the photos been popular with media but also with the people of the community. When people of the community see the photos it empowers them and makes them feel connected to a positive part of where they are from and what it means to be in their community.
Vermeland talked about how huie inspired her to look deeper into the place that she has a connection to. She found that her life and sense of community has always been on Hennepin ave. Vermeland recalled how so much of her life happened on that street and began to realize that much of it is completely different today. Realizing this she decided that she wanted to focus on photography that portrays the before and after of Hennepin ave. Her photographs portray the change that has transformed the community in which she has been a part of her whole life. Through some of her process of beginning to photograph the area she found that she is really drawn to the connection between the storefront window and the sidewalk.
Huie and Vermeland's willingness and passion to photograph and connect to the community is inspiring. In our class this year we have touched on much of what they have done in the community. We read Three Cups Of Tea by Greg Mortenson. The book was all about helping out the community and empowering the community. Although unlike Mortenson's work, Vermeland and Huie have never had the intention of improving anything, they are just choosing to emphasize and unite communities. This semester our class title is Hearing their Voices: Globalism. This is exactly what both Huie and Vermeland have strived to do. Highlight and show people in the community who may not normally have a voice of significance. Sustainability is one of the main issues that we have touched on throughout the year when talking about the environment. Sustainability is an important part of what Huie does because he wants to create projects that have lasting affects on communities. His most recent University Ave. Project has been the most sustainable thus far, with some images still up today.
I believe that sustainability, unity, and empowerment are among the most important things to have in a community. Without these characteristics like these communities aren't able to sustain themselves and thrive. What Huie and Vermeland are doing is very relevant to how I feel about community because of my knowledge from community arts and honors class, my wanting to be a part of my community, and reflection of the community in which I grew up in. I enjoyed their stories because the places they talked of were largely a part of the community that I call my home. My time in community arts and honors has allowed me to gain further knowledge about what a community looks like and how communities are sustained. When I think about specific streets from my community that I connect with, I immediately think of 3rd st. This street in my community connects so much for me personally. It leads to my grandparents house, my dad lives on it, library, post office, hair salon in which I used to go to as a child--it connects so many parts of what I consider to be my community. Community is all about unity. I think that community is something that is often taken for granted. Community should be highly valued because without it the world wouldn't function.