Jane Suh: Artist Statement

 

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Posted on May 19, 2015 by Jane Suh

I like the comfort of knowing my surroundings. It is an innate human quality that has helped me to survive and thrive in different environments. My economics background has trained me to be direct and calculative. Thus, I have become accustomed to look forward when solving a problem, around me when analyzing an equation, and occasionally behind me when referencing a derivative. I take the adage “keep a level head” both figuratively and literally, making sure to examine life’s situations from my vantage point.

But what happens when I look up? Down? Does changing my point of view alter what I see? This body of work tackles this question by showcasing the city of Philadelphia from different vantage points. In order to do so, I have captured scenes of Philly’s bustling streets from above – on bridges and the rooftops of parking garages – as well as its monumental buildings and skyscrapers from below. Images of myself looking out from these vantage points represent the act of shifting my perspective.

So, did changing my point of view alter what I saw? I’m not quite sure if it changed what I perceived visually, but it did give me a strange sense of control. Being able to capture every movement from above was empowering and made me feel invisible. Gazing up at a skyscraper from below allowed me to take in every detail – every crevice, reflection, and deflection of light.

Although my own vantage point is comforting and familiar, shifting my gaze up and down allowed me to be more aware, sensitive to my surroundings, and observant. But maybe more importantly, it allowed me to appreciate the things that were once unnoticed – life outside the problems, equations, and derivatives. As I prepare to transition into the next stage in my life and leave my undergraduate career behind, I hope to retain a habit of examining life’s situation from many vantage points, not just my own…stopping occasionally to look up and down.

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Photography and Text by Jane Suh

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About the Author: Jane Suh is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.  Class of 2015

Angelo Munafo: Just a Rainy Day in New York? Think Again.

photos of New York city

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

Posted on April 23, 2015 by Angelo Munafo

When people think New York City, any number of things may come to mind. For me, New York is synonymous with gray skies and open minds. I’m not sure whether my experience visiting the greatest city on earth has simply been an anomaly, but for whatever reason most of my stays have been marked by overcast or rainy weather… my recent weekend excursion to NYC kept the streak alive!

Clouds of mist welcomed us on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel, immersing us in a city full of damp streets, rain jackets, umbrellas, and disappearing building tops. I emphasize this dreary feel in the four shots which I have depicted in black and white. The grayscale tones also evoke the sense of industrial ubiquity that dominates the skyline, along with the banality of our daily lives. Any pedestrian who dares look up will be confronted with an army of giants looming overhead—enough to make even the biggest ego feel quite insignificant. Visiting New York reminds me how trivial most of life is: it takes a big city to put things in perspective. From the rhythmic pulsations of the subway ride to the geometric steel structures of 21st century buildings, New York is a city that tests our internal equilibrium and stimulates our visual senses. This kind of environment can certainly become overwhelming. Perhaps the best way to see through all the noise and distill the true essence of the city is to view New York through a black and white lens. Though most would assume that the “bad weather” has impeded my enjoyment, I am thankful for the rainy day experiences in this city precisely because they have afforded me a unique perspective, peeling one more layer of skin off this complex “apple.” A monochromatic New York is a tad more manageable New York, one that allows us to take a deep breath and key in on the minutiae that make this city the feat of nature that it is.

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

neon signs New York

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

However, a portrayal of this cosmopolitan wonderland would be incomplete without the spectrums of color and emotion that characterize Manhattan’s bustling urban life. New York is a city of neon street signs, illuminated basements, and public servants. Though recently called into question, New York has always prided itself on its world-class police and fire departments, and we must not forget how bravely they have served our nation in taking on everything from horrible crime rates to the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Thus, the other five images in my selection feature vibrant bursts of color reminiscent of the passionate personalities that live and work on this island. Too often do we get lost amidst the concrete jungle and forget that New York City is indeed an island oasis—a different kind of paradise, yes, but a paradise nonetheless. The hope, aspirations, and dreams that characterize this city and its people are embodied within the splashes of color that push onward despite the dreary scene that they find themselves in. New Yorkers do not take no for an answer and certainly aren’t the type to get discouraged by a gloomy sky.

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

color new york street at night

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

Last but not least, New York is a city of stories. It seems that moreso than any other place in the U.S., every individual in this town has a unique tale to their name. We too walked away with an interesting narrative in the couple short days that we spent traversing the NY grid. After hours of intermittent scheming, we were able to sneak into the dorm at the Manhattan School of Music to surprise our good friend Matt Burkett out of the blue. His subway prowess allowed us to deftly navigate the journey from the upper west side to the lower east side. Our destination: “Lil’ Frankie’s” pizzeria. Though signless, dimly-lit, and cramped, this diamond in the rough was filled with a lively crowd of patrons late on this Saturday night and served up some of the best artisan pizza I’ve ever tasted.

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

subway ride new york city

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

Only one item remained on the trip’s agenda before our meal could be complete: my good buddy Nate Forlini wanted a cannoli. And when Nate has a hankering for a particular something, you better bet that he’s going to find a way to satisfy that hankering! The problem was that Lil’ Frankies was cannoli-less—the lone kink in this place’s pristine Italian armor. After a quick Siri search for nearby Italian bakeries, we decided to try one with the caveat that if things went south we had to turn back in time to catch our show. Just a couple blocks away, it turns out that we unknowingly stumbled upon a famous Italian pastry shop that’s been in business for well over a century, Veniero’s! Needless to say, the place was packed to the gills even at 11 PM, and we were in no position to wait around for the rumored twenty minutes to earn the right to order one of their sacred treats. So Nate was forced to walk away a sad camper, disappointed that a golden opportunity slipped through our fingers on account of a shortage of time. But not to worry, after all New York is a city of second chances. Sure enough, our spirits were all lifted as we stumbled upon yet another New York gem, the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy club. These folks pulled out all the stops for their mock late-night show; little did we know that we had just sauntered into their last ever episode!

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

ANGELO-2-BLOG

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

The city that never sleeps is littered with gems like the ones I encountered that night; it’s just a matter of keeping an open mind towards the possibilities that may be lying behind every rainy street corner. So next time you’re pleasantly surprised while exploring NYC—you really shouldn’t be…

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

Photography and Text by Angelo Munafo, Copyright 2015

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About the Author: Angelo Munafo is freshman enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2018.

Corey Fader: Peacefulness

Australian surfer on beach

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

Posted on April 23, 2015 by Corey Fader

As I walk along the coast of the opposite side of the Earth from home, I recognize the surreal beauty of the world that we live in. I look out into the distance and see nothing but thousands of miles of bright blue ocean water. All I can hear are the sounds of the waves as they break upon the sun-covered rocks beneath me. It is so hard to believe that all of this peacefulness is only a couple of miles away from one of the biggest and busiest places in the world.

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

As I walk along the coast of the opposite side of the Earth from home, I recognize the surreal beauty of the world that we live in. I look out into the distance and see nothing but thousands of miles of bright blue ocean water. All I can hear are the sounds of the waves as they break upon the sun-covered rocks beneath me. It is so hard to believe that all of this peacefulness is only a couple of miles away from one of the biggest and busiest places in the world. What an amazing way to escape from the rush of a city and spend a day relaxing on your own. I glance over the edge of the cliff, and I notice a father and son spending the day together in the calm clear water the rests at the base of the coast. As I continue moving on, I begin to approach another beach, this one marked by groups of surfers waiting for the perfect wave to ride in to shore. It is unbelievable to think about how there is so much in the world that I have not seen. I gaze around in amazement of how it has formed the way it has. How did these huge rocks get all the way up here? I take a seat on the side of the cliff to take in the art of nature, and I begin to realize that right on the other end of this water, everyone lays asleep under the night stars. The Earth is a marvelous place.

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

What an amazing way to escape from the rush of a city and spend a day relaxing on your own.  As I continue moving on, I begin to approach another beach, this one marked by groups of surfers waiting for the perfect wave to ride in to shore. It is unbelievable to think about how there is so much in the world that I have not seen. I gaze around in amazement of how it has formed the way it has.

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

seacoast australia

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

As I walk along the coast of the opposite side of the Earth from home, I recognize the surreal beauty of the world that we live in. I look out into the distance and see nothing but thousands of miles of bright blue ocean water. All I can hear are the sounds of the waves as they break upon the sun-covered rocks beneath me. It is so hard to believe that all of this peacefulness is only a couple of miles away from one of the biggest and busiest places in the world. What an amazing way to escape from the rush of a city and spend a day relaxing on your own. I glance over the edge of the cliff, and I notice a father and son spending the day together in the calm clear water the rests at the base of the coast. As I continue moving on, I begin to approach another beach, this one marked by groups of surfers waiting for the perfect wave to ride in to shore. It is unbelievable to think about how there is so much in the world that I have not seen. I gaze around in amazement of how it has formed the way it has. How did these huge rocks get all the way up here? I take a seat on the side of the cliff to take in the art of nature, and I begin to realize that right on the other end of this water, everyone lays asleep under the night stars. The Earth is a marvelous place.

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

How did these huge rocks get all the way up here? I take a seat on the side of the cliff to take in the art of nature, and I begin to realize that right on the other end of this water, everyone lays asleep under the night stars. The Earth is a marvelous place.

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

COREY-0604

cuban house painted in pink with rooster out front on the lawn

Photography & Text by Corey Fader, Copyright 2015

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About the Author: Corey Fader is a freshman enrolled in the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. Class of 2018

Transformation: New Americans in Philadelphia

33 people of Burma
Photography by Harvey Finle, Copyright 2015.

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Posted on January 21, 2015, by Roberta Fallon (TheArtBlog.org)

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A Photographic Exhibition by Harvey Finkle at the main branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia Until 2/15/15 in Conjunction with “One Book, One Phildelphia.

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An historic, exciting transformation is occurring in this unique neighborhood, South Philadelphia, the original destiny for immigrants arriving in this city during the last decades of the 19th century and early 20th century. This diminishing population of descendents of European immigrants from over a century ago are being replaced today by immigrants from a variety of other countries, but bringing the same energy, values and hopes brought by their predecessors a century ago. As a Jewish community that some once estimated at a quarter million evaporated and the Italian community slowly shrinks, they are being replaced by Indochinese from Cambodian, Vietnam and Laos; by Indonesians of both Christian and Muslim faiths; by Mexicans and most recently by refugees from Nepal and Burma.

 

South Philadelphia is a microcosm of what is occurring in old neighborhoods of many large cities throughout the country. New immigrants and refugees are revitalizing urban neighborhoods with their energy and commitment that emulate what prior immigrants brought. Homes, shops and restaurants, once vacant and deteriorating are being regenerated; schools are being refilled; even religious facilities are being restored or constructed to reflect the varied belief systems of these new arrivals. Simply put, they work hard, want to live in safety, raise their families, educate their children and worship without fear.

 

This is a unique historic moment. The issues of immigration are once more at the forefront of a national discussion. Immigration will continue to be a natural occurrence throughout a globalizing world, imposing the need for major political and policy decisions. Social movements have already blossomed. An organized, informed grass roots effort can influence and enable beneficial decisions. This work can offer some small contribution to the already existing local and national discussion.

 

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