The intent for my piece was to address Red Hook’s community resiliency after Superstorm Sandy. Due to Red Hook’s water-level location, the community suffered from devastating storm damages. However, within times of crisis, there is an opportunity for reconstruction and resiliency. Though physical storm damages were visible after Sandy hit, the omission that needed to be highlighted was the sense of community resiliency. Instead of focusing on physical destruction, I wanted my piece to emphasize the omission of community spirit, hope, and trust, which are all facets of Red Hook’s social capital.
My ethnography of Red Hook and exploring its water-front locations have intrigued me on the type of community that exists there. For my final project, I initially did not know what I wanted to explore, but I tried looking for the omissions that were not physical. In an attempt to connect with Red Hook, I began to wonder what I had in common with the community. I grew up on Long Island, NY which was heavily hit by Superstorm Sandy and I was thinking about what was not spoken about. Though destruction was devastating, the influx of community bonding and resiliency surprised me. The stories of strangers coming together to help each other in times of crisis are the omissions I wanted to focus on. I wondered if Red Hook also had stories of community strength and resiliency and explored my final topic from there. I researched the effects of Superstorm Sandy on Red Hook and found that though the neighborhood was hard hit by the storm, the community worked hard to move forward. I found that local landmark businesses served as hubs of social infrastructure and anchored the community in times of crisis. Volunteers and patrons came back to their beloved businesses in order to repair and rebuild. This process of community reconstruction of local businesses increased social capital. Community groups such as the Red Hook Initiative also worked to aid the community. My final project in both Studio and Seminar were heavily inspired by sociologist, Eric Klinenberg’s quote, “A disaster for a social scientist is akin to a particle accelerator for a physicist; they speed up and make visible conditions that are always present but don’t fundamentally alter the relationship between the different elements.” Social infrastructure and social capital have always existed in Red Hook, but it is because of Superstorm Sandy that they are visible, allowing room for renovation and improvement.
I chose to display images of storm damage and reconstruction in a photographic weaving format to represent the interwovenness of the community. I wanted to emphasize the sense of community without using words. Originally, I debated whether or not to incorporate quotes from local business owners but I chose not to in order to let the images speak for themselves. Images of storm damage were dipped in salt-water and dried to create texture and also to represent the flooding that had occurred. Red Hook is a tight-knit community and the symbolism of a quilt, as different patches make up a whole, is why I chose to make nine compositions.
Materials + Techniques
12×12 printed images cut into strips
red embroidery string
Adobe Illustrator files and grid formatting:
Material exploration with salt water mixture
Pictures cut into strips
Stored strips and tape
Creation of a square
x3 Connections to Seminar
Eric Klinenberg: “A disaster for a social scientist is akin to a particle accelerator for a physicist; they speed up and make visible conditions that are always present but don’t fundamentally alter the relationship between the different elements.”
Eric Klinenberg’s views on social infrastructure providing social capital/Klinenberg’s book, Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life
“Systems” thinking: Thinking about stakeholders, power dynamics, institutions, relationships, and how everything is interconnected (ex. https://portfolio.newschool.edu/carolnguyen/2019/05/05/inspirational-toolkit-bridge-5/)