community feature: Through These Realities

This week I’m featuring the local, Boston-area art project, Through These Realities, featuring collaborations across photography and poetry. I shared about the call for this in a previous post, and I’m now happy to celebrate the opening of the exhibition and the publication of the work online.

A typewriter, tape recorder, and camera.

Neuroscientist, photographer, and writer, Joshua Sariñana, PhD, who is one of the coordinators, defines the project as follows:

Through These Realities challenges the narratives of mass media that invalidate the experiences of people of color through the interactions of poetry and photography. Six photographers of color have created a series of images inspired by work from six poets of color. These images incorporate the figurative and literal visual elements related to associated poetry—prompted by a James Baldwin quote. Artists use poetry and photography to validate their realities, reveal the discrepancies between the dominant culture, and solidify the normality of people of color living in the everyday.

A good example of the kind of dynamic work it involved in this project can be seen in the poem “Black Mirror” by Kesper Wang. In this poem, the speaker takes us through different images of contemporary life. A life often centered around smartphones, streaming, and/or at least highly impacted by the internet, but in which folks also strain at turns to be grounded in as well as to find reprieve from the real world.

In this poem, we move through a series of images, teased along by the title, which can be taken at first as a reference to the popular TV show Black Mirror, but which by the end repeats in a way that haunts long after the last line’s been read.

This kind of engaged reflection and meditation on the ills of the world–not just to lament but also to explore the depths of feeling that we are taken to at times–speaks to the prompt defined by Sariñana, and by doing so gives insight into the realities in the title of this project.

If you’re in the area, details of the in-person exhibition can be found on the TTR website. Even if you’re not in the area or are practicing social distancing, I encourage you to spend time with the work online.

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