Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Lamps and Postcards

Hi my name is Kate Dries, and I'm a senior at LaGuardia High School. I have interning at the Hester Street Collaborative project for a couple of months. Recently, the interns have been focused on taking images of the neighborhood, like the one on the left, and using them in lamps based roughly on the design and style of Chinese paper lanterns. These would hopefully be used to get the neighborhood involved in expressing what they like and dislike about their own community. By using lamps to represent these ideas in a functional manner, we can help target the wants and needs of this community in a more specific endeavor, at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park, which is going to be redesigned soon. Many of the inhabitants of the neighborhood do not speak English, so getting them to use images to express their emotions in a visually interesting way could be really exciting. We've spent the last couple of weeks designing lamps out of paper, trying to isolate a few specific ones that are easy to make but beautiful, and so could be taught to other people of all ages.
Turning these same images we've taken to put on the lamps into postcards was Alex's idea. He feels that by looking at the lamps as postcards from the neighborhood, as a kind of snapshot of what is going on here, we can better use them as ways to express what we think about the neighborhood. It has been helpful in encorporting text into the lamps, and has really broadened the possibilities that this project has for us.
I guess this has all been discussed before on the blog, but it is a little abstract and confusing as an idea. It took me awhile to get it. Recently, I've been out more looking around the neighborhood and taking pictures. This is really fascinating to me because though I've lived downtown all my life, I've never really been to a lot of the lower east side. There is so much I haven't seen, and its really cool how many different areas you can walk through in half an hour. Some of it is really ugly, but others shots, like the one of Brooklyn and the river above, are really beautiful.
Today I went around and shot some more specific pictures, instead of just whats ugly about the neighborhood and whats beautiful (though usually I don't find anything under these categories; mostly everything is just interesting to look at). Alex wanted me to go out and take pictures of benches and parks and things that might inspire us in the garden that we worked on over the summer at P.S. 134. I did this the other night with Jenny, but it was really dark and we didn't get really good shots. I got some good ideas for what has been done in the area, but everytime I go on one of those walks it just makes me want to inject some pure beauty into the neighborhood. It often seems like you have to search too long for it.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Since my last posting, we have been experimenting with the lanterns. We are trying to reach a goal of 4 perfect lanterns. We have several different designs that we are considering for the final 4. The lanterns should be able to incorporate both text and images sort of like a postcard. In fact, we are making bootleg postcards using images from within the community to help us combine the two things. We feel that the lanterns should portray a strong idea about the community to the viewers. Today, I froze my behind off outside while taking pictures for the postcards. I bumped into Jenny and Susan and they both accompanied me to take more pictures. Alex's bootleg camera died out and left us with a mere seven pictures. After returning to the oh, so warm office, we charged the battery and uploaded the pictures.