Gallery r presents the opening of A 9/11 Project: Reflections and Memories — a multi-part exhibition showcasing a selection from 121 newspapers collected in the week following 9/11 along with reflections of the week from RIT students and the Rochester community.
The premise for the exhibition stems from Eric T. Kunsman, faculty in NTID’s Visual Communication Studies, and his Applied Photo Art I class from September 11, 2001. Eric like many RIT faculty, replaced his planned lesson that day with a discussion focused on the day’s events. That led to an interactive discussion on how photography and videography would shape history and influence the opinion of future generations. This was only the second time this freshman class had met and, as this was also the beginning of only their second week away from home, Eric created an assignment in which all of the students contacted family and friends and asked them to collect their hometown newspapers for the following days. Three weeks later, the class spread out the 121 unique newspapers collected to begin a discussion of the different representations of the photograph, headlines, and articles.
Fifteen years later, Eric reached back out to these students to see what they remember from that discussion and the project. With the support of an RIT Provost Lecturers Grant, the Gallery r exhibition will showcase quotes from the students alongside a curated selection of the 121 newspapers collected in the week following 9/11. A commemorative book of the project is being produced and will be available in September 2016.
The second part of the exhibition seeks to engage members of the Rochester community directly by encouraging them to share their own reflections of 9/11 and how it impacted them. Using their own phone or any terminal at the exhibit, visitors can share their story through text, photos, audio, and video into the collective memory database while they at the gallery or anytime after.
This portion of the exhibition is being led by Michael Riordan, faculty in RIT’s School of Media Sciences, and is focused on connection and sharing. Pinnacle moments like the events of 9/11 provide an important touchstone for us all, and the hope is that this collective memory of 9/11 from the Rochester community will provide insight for how we connect both as individuals and as a community.
The legacy component of this project is important as well. When you consider that 2016’s incoming college freshman were only three years old when 9/11 occurred, how quickly time passes becomes clear, and the value of reflecting and sharing more evident.
This exhibit will be extending into the community in different ways through partnership with Gallery r (on view from August 5-21, 2016), and the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. An extension of this exhibition will open at the RIT Wallace Center on September 12th, 2016.