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A great sense of neighborhood pride spread across the Hawley-Green community at an ArtRage photography reception last spring. A vibrant and dynamic community exhibition was showcased. Community members were able to view the neighborhood from not only their own perspectives, but also through the eyes of others.

ArtRage Gallery is located in the Hawley-Green neighborhood − one of Syracuse’s most ethnically, racially and culturally diverse areas. When community residents expressed a desire to share, reflect and appreciate this diversity, the Gallery launched In Our View: A Community Perspective.

With the help of a grant from the Community Foundation, ArtRage launched this photography project to strengthen neighborhood pride through the artistic process of community-documented photography. Participants worked with a photography expert and a Syracuse University student to document their lives, families and neighborhood. The project was kicked off with a workshop to introduce all of the participants and learn the basics of shooting with a digital camera.

Participants had a month to submit photos and at least one picture from each participant was chosen for the gallery exhibition. The project culminated in an opening reception last spring, where more than 900 people attended to view the 225 neighborhood photos displayed.

“This exhibition showed both the beauty and the blight,” said Kimberley McCoy, Community Engagement Organizer of the CORA Foundation, the parent funder of ArtRage. “Through the focused lens of photography, for some, viewing these images
was a fresh perspective of the Northside. It was also a rare view into people’s homes, families and lives. I felt like the exhibition helped break down barriers or ‘differences’ among people as it focused on the common connections that unite all people.”

This project allowed many community members to meet and work together for the first time. Working together toward a unified goal helped to create a sense of trust and responsibility sharing within the community.

Since opening its doors in 2008, ArtRage has welcomed a diverse group of artists, filmmakers, poets, theater directors and community organizations to use its space in ways that will bring about positive social change. For more information about this project or the ArtRage Gallery, visit artragegallery.org.