These Walls will amplify public discourse on housing inequity through an accessible, alternative photography exhibition by and for working-class people. Documentary cellphone photos by low-wage workers will visualize their struggles and joys alongside portraits of those workers by professional photographers. Participatory elements will capture public opinion to be shared with policy-makers. A newspaper/poster set, compiling workers’ stories, will bridge from the exhibition to public spaces, as will a take-away solidarity sign and sticker. Rocket Grants funds will cover all material and production costs.
These Walls unites multiple innovative elements into a multi-faceted exhibition centered on documentary photography. The collaboration with low-wage workers, who do not identify primarily as artists, is perhaps the most important element – it is their stories and images that take center stage. This is done through their participation and training in the Langston Hughes Club [LHC], a photographic affinity group of the Stand Up KC low-wage workers’ movement, developed under the leadership of photojournalist Steve Hebert. The autobiographical nature of their cell-phone images enlarges the creative circle and is a primary element of the discourse.
Another unique element is the design work made by tyler galloway, who has worked in support of Stand Up KC over the past six years. His use of design-based storytelling and identity building will extend the narrative beyond the gallery and into public spaces, providing opportunities to build interest and conversation around the issue. Further, the documentary photography work of Steve Hebert and Chase Castor will focus on the workers’ themselves and be shown in support of the primary images of LHC members.
This project represents a significant step in terms of project scale, ambition, and coordination for all collaborators. A previous exhibit by the LHC garnered attention from the New York Times online, the Daily Mail [UK], and slate.com. They are confident that a well-planned effort has greater potential to foster public dialogue on this important issue.
The team feels their project is timely because conversations on housing justice are already bubbling up in Kansas City through kctenants.org, the ongoing work of the Heartland Center for Jobs & Freedom and frequent local press coverage. A successful exhibit will mean this public conversation is noticeably increased through local press, local policy-makers addressing the issue, and on social media. More immediately, success would look like a well-attended exhibit with all publications and support materials in the hands of attendees and people around Kansas City.
The primary audience for this project is working-class Kansas-Citians who know the LHC workers and/or empathize with their plight. The team anticipates a large turnout from Stand Up KC workers, their allies, and acquaintances. The workers themselves will be recognized for their truthful and impactful work, which will give them confidence and elevate their voices.
Team members are currently looking into options for the exhibition, prioritizing a space where working-class people and those not normally accustomed to viewing art will gain free entry and be absolutely comfortable.
tyler galloway is a graphic designer, and Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Graphic Design department at Kansas City Art Institute. His primary research and practice interests focus on design for social change and participatory design processes. He brings 24 years of professional design experience and 17 years of teaching experience to his endeavors. A six-year relationship with Stand Up KC, Kansas City’s conception of the international low-wage worker movement, has centered on visual identity and support materials such as posters, banners, shirt, and event materials.
tyler’s expertise lies in human-centered visual communication – combining images and the written word into compelling, appropriate, and memorable messages across a range of media, with particular interest in print and motion graphics. He is knowledgeable about creative approaches to qualitative research, strategic uses of design, and making the design process participatory and inclusive to audience members and clients alike.
Whether it be diagramming a problem space, visualizing data, or making an artful appeal to one’s emotions, his preference is to use his skills to foster communities that are creatively making themselves healthier, smarter, more sustainable, involved, and aware. His vision is to contribute positively to these communities through close collaboration with ordinary citizens and community activists.
tyler holds a BFA in graphic design from Missouri State University and a Master of Graphic Design from North Carolina State University. His design work has appeared in several national and international political/social poster and art exhibitions and been published in the books The Design of Dissent, Reproduce and Revolt and the Turkish socio-political design magazine No Tasarim. Coursework and student projects have been published in the book Designing for Social Change and the website Design Ignites Change, having won multiple grants through the latter. He has spoken locally and regionally on design for social change and was an invited participant in the LEAP symposium at Art Center College of Design. Design pedagogy papers have been presented at multiple AIGA national design education conferences, Typecon and the international MODE summit on motion graphics. But perhaps just as importantly, tyler loves riding bikes, punk rock, vegan cookies and being a husband and dad.
A sampling of his professional work can be found at http://www.thenewprogramme.net
Steve Hebert is an award-winning photojournalist whose passion for visual storytelling has taken him across the country and around the world, including Green Beret embeds in Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia, Africa, and the Philippines. He has spent over 15 years working professionally as a photojournalist for a number of newspapers and magazines – Time, US News and World Report, Business Week, New York Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal. His ongoing project, The Quiet Professionals, is a photo book that features unprecedented documentation of the US Special Forces.
Hannah Lodwick (she/her/hers) is the Assistant Director of Continuing Education at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Co-Founder of 50/50. Lodwick is an arts worker devoted to education, curation and programming by offering accessible opportunities that are challenging, elevated and contemporary. More at hannahlodwick.work. (http://hannahlodwick.work/)
Chase Castor is a documentary and portrait photographer from the Midwest. He takes a journalistic approach to his work which navigates the intricacies of the human condition from an intimate point of view, focusing on marginalized people and the unique perspectives of the common person.
Michael M. Enriquez is the Executive Director of Stand Up KC, the local arm of the Fight for $15 and a union movement of fast good and low wage workers. He’s native son of Kansas City.