Power, Persistence and Bearing Witness

I SPENT a  little time a few weeks ago interviewing photographer Warren Hill for show he was preparing for featuring his work celebrating community organizing and the power of collective voices.

Though it is visual representation of community building, Hill’s work is at its core about listening:  Getting to know a place is about getting to know the people who inhabit it, who have shaped and tended it when others have looked away. 

To really see Los Angeles — its many working parts, its vivid tapestry —  starts with listening.IMG_2816

As I mentioned in my remarks on Saturday afternoon: “His lens asks open-ended,  ‘how-and-why’ questions that allow his subjects  the space to fill in the frame. He’s not imposing a narrative but allowing his subject’s the space to articulate delicate shadings and implications  of their own situation.”

Hill will be at the Central Library Wednesday afternoon talking about his work for Photographer’s Eye: “Power and Persistence: Grassroots Activists and Musicians in L.A.” Click here for more information.

You can see the photographs in person until June 26th Venice Arts.







Fifty Years Ago Today …

MS 2003-36  March on Washington Program - front

THERE IS an incredible document up at the National Archives Tumblr that really hit home. I keep looking at it over and over. It’s a scan of the full program from the March on Washington. Within you’ll find a full listing of speakers, a map of the march and of course “The List of Demands.”

Fifty years gone, literally a “piece” of history, the thing that immediately struck me about the document’s no-frills, simplicity — it’s straight-forwardness — is that it underscores just how starkly different we are today about marking events of this magnitude — often with excessive flourishes.

There is beauty and dignity in the lack of ostentatiousness that cuts through to the heart to the heart of matter. Nothing crowds the list of names and their purpose. Nothing interferes with or eclipses the purpose of the day.

I would love to hold it in my hands.

You can see the rest here.

From the March: Mahalia Jackson

And of course, Dr. King:

Will You Sleep Outside Tonight?

LATE YESTERDAY, as I was walking back from my last class, Loyola Marymount students had transformed the rolling lawn just west of the Alumni Mall and adjacent to the new multi-million dollar William H. Hannon Library into a very realistic homeless encampment.

The installation, a powerful visual articulation, is part of a community service event, Feed the Hungry, that the university has sponsored annually for the last decade. Students as well as faculty and staff and other local volunteers convene to feed the homeless population in L.A. focused on Santa Monica every Tuesday. The crew packs lunches on campus and then carpools west to pass out lunches to the needy.

Sponsored by campus ministry, the event, which begins November 16, is in line with the university’s social justice mission. The encampment is a concrete way to underscore the severity of the issue. Numbers are abstract, but fragile makeshift cardboard shelters rising on one of the first cold nights of the season conveys what pie charts, bar graphs can not.