Caldera’s mission to be a catalyst for transformation through innovative art and environmental programs is embodied through Hello Neighbor, a public art project with an emphasis on photography.
“In 2007, Caldera received a significant grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to undertake a project called Perspectives in Photography,” says Tricia Snell, executive director for Caldera Arts Center. “The project took place during the 2007/2008 school year and served as the artistic focus for Caldera’s youth program. Hello Neighbor is the culminating public art portion of this photography emphasis.”
Julie Keefe, one of Caldera’s professional artists who is also a photographer, conceived of Hello Neighbor to explore gentrification issues in Portland. Her artist statement illustrates the goals of Hello Neighbor, saying, “What happens to neighborhoods when your neighbors aren’t your neighbors anymore?
When interviewed about his rapidly changing North Portland community, my neighbor, Charles, said he didn’t mind the streets being safer, the businesses returning or the houses being fixed up. What he did mind was that people didn’t say hello anymore. When I moved to the neighborhood in 1991, with my husband and six-month old daughter, I was a new neighbor. As an artist, I wanted to find a way to publicly address the changes I was part of. My idea was to work with children to seek out neighbors of all ages. I wanted to begin a dialogue about community from their point of view.
The resulting public artwork would be displayed throughout the children’s neighborhoods. Mural-sized, black and white photographs with text would introduce the neighborhood to its children and their neighbors to each other.”
The artist then proceeded to work with Caldera students in ten different communities in Central Oregon and Portland each week that were impacted by socioeconomic transition. The students then invited their neighbors to be interviewed, posing questions like, “How do you see yourself?” or “Do you feel safe in your community?” After the interviews were completed, Keefe selected a quotation to create seven by five-foot photo and word banners that would be displayed in pairs throughout the communities.
Caldera middle school students photographed the subjects and were subsequently interviewed and photographed by Keefe herself. She concludes by saying, “Our hope is that these banners will stimulate conversation and help to reconnect communities.”
Information: 541/595-0956 and www.CalderaArts.org