Art, City Transformation, Creativity

‘Through Our Eyes’ reminds us all that there is much more to Detroit’s story than ruin porn

Eyes 2

One consistent problem Detroit has suffered is its image. Its symbolized most dramatically through “ruin porn,” or pictures of wrecked buildings and property. But that is why photography – particularly that created by Detroit residents – is so important in retelling the city’s story.

Through our eyesRight now, Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO) is hosting a photography exhibit at the Swords into Plowshares Peace Center and Gallery in Detroit called Through Our Eyes. It features photographs taken by the formerly homeless residents of the NSO Bell Building as part of a three month PhotoVoice research project in partnership with Oakland University. It runs through Dec. 13.

One of the photographers is Uzi Farooq, who spent time in an out of shelters since the early 90s. Recently, as a NSO Bell Building resident, he served as captain of the Detroit Street Soccer team that competed in August for the Homeless World Cup. His passion is to someday earn a living as a professional photographer.

Lucretia Gaulden, who has lived in the NSO Bell Building for two years, is another resident participant in this photo project. She found the experience to be not only educational, but also transformative.

“Our instructor taught us there is no wrong way to take photographs,” she said. “There is no bad photograph. You aim and shoot. With that confidence, three of my pieces are in the show.”

Eyes 1Gaulden’s favorite photo is of an abandoned, dilapidated building with a smiley face spray painted on the outside. “It is how many people feel,” she said. “Smiling on the outside and falling apart on the inside. It reminds us never to judge and never to look down on anyone.”

PhotoVoice is a research methodology using participatory photography to empower people to understand and express themselves. The participants, who are formerly homeless and now living in a one-bedroom apartment at the NSO Bell Building, explored factors that have influenced their health and wellness.

“We are so impressed with the quality of the residents’ photos and what they represent,” said Sheilah P. Clay, president and CEO of the Neighborhood Service Organization. “I hope the entire community will come view the exhibit to see how powerful these photographs are.”

Since 1955, Neighborhood Service Organization has been reaching out to people across metropolitan Detroit by strengthening and empowering neighborhoods, supporting families and helping people in need. Over the years, the scope and variety of services offered have grown into a network of sophisticated, vertically integrated programs that have received local, statewide and national recognition.

Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays or by special appointment. The Swords into Plowshares Peace Center & Gallery is located at 33 E. Adams St. in Detroit.

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4 comments on “‘Through Our Eyes’ reminds us all that there is much more to Detroit’s story than ruin porn

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