Everyone has his or her own space. It’s often bottled up deep inside of oneself where few outsiders have ever seen, much less have access to. It is in this space where our deepest emotions truly lay: happiness when we recall a distant memory, silly random thoughts, our greatest frustrations, our worst moments, and our deepest fears. This space, if opened to the world, could put oneself in an uncomfortable position. Therefore, oftentimes when people attempt to initially find or interact with this space they see it in a different way: blank.
Allowing someone into this space is truly a courageous endeavor. It requires peeling back the outer layer of nothingness and diving deep into the confines of another human. What one encounters is never predictable as you are greeted with new discoveries at every turn. Yet, with each new finding, it somehow all begins to seem familiar. A worried face or an angry tick is suddenly reminiscent of your own and what you begin to discover is that everyone is not as different as they seem.
Oftentimes when met with the journey of entering such a space, I am filled with apprehension — What if I see something that scares me? What if I don’t find what I had hoped to? Can I handle this responsibility? Once the walls come down it is a frighteningly vulnerable moment that you must close your eyes for — but then you open them. Everything that once was empty and blank is filled. The walls are colored with fears and frustrations; the floors are lined with precious memories and each turn brings both joy and sadness. It is here where you truly begin to understand a person and it is in this space, when it is no longer blank, that defines who you are.
Photography and Text by Kevin Lu, Copyright 2015
About the Author: Kevin Lu is a senior enrolled in the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2015.
Posted on January 21, 2015, by Roberta Fallon (TheArtBlog.org)
A Photographic Exhibition by Harvey Finkle at the main branch of theFree Library of Philadelphia Until 2/15/15 in Conjunction with “One Book, One Phildelphia.”
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.