Our Neighbourhood Rolls

Submitted by Julia Vogl

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Client: Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History

Location: Kingston, NY, United States

Completion date: 2020

Project Team

Project Manager

Sarah Litvin

Reher Center

Artist

Julia Vogl

Overview

Commissioned by the Reher Centre for Immigrant Culture and History. Vogl worked in partnership with the youth from the Read and Write program at the Rondout Neighbourhood Centre to develop three multiple choice questions. The questions were posed to residents to identify their relationship: past, present and future to Kingston. The public used Vogl’s designed stencil with spray paint to visualise their responses. The stencils borrowed from iconic moments in the city’s history. ( Bricks for growth of building, Canal waves for influx of immigration and trade and a gradient for the diversity of the community past and present.) Additionally the round nature and present, X and oval signify rolls, paying homage to the original Reher Bakery.

Goals

Yes, Our Neighborhood Rolls became a beautification project to cover the cinder block wall at the side of the building, but primarily Dr. Litvin, Director of the Reher Centre, envisioned it as a point of pride that, in the making, would build community. Critically she saw it as a meaningful, fun, educational, and engaging project for local kids and Kingstonians.The mural serves as a data visualisation and furthers pride, history and discourse for the citizens of the city. Those that did not spray paint on the wall can still answer the questions in the key by the artwork and engage in the mural as a reference to how they feel about their city past, present and future.

Process

Despite the pandemic, outdoor workshop were held and then timed slots and distanced interactions made in person participation happen to build the community mural. 156 community members participated to make this 16foot by 20 foot mural. Our Neighborhood Rolls included 156 participants. It is a piece I am immensely proud of, because the way it was made reflected many people taking carefully considered risks. I hope the mural’s legacy inspires people to continue supporting community art even in challenging times, as its benefits outweigh its costs.

Additional Information

The work in meaning illustrates history, culture, student voices, and is a portrait of the community. The mural demonstrates simultaneously placemaking and community building, both big reasons why I make public art. We showed the students, who helped design the questions in the workshops, the final work on our last day and asked what they thought. One 10-year-old boy, whose playground has faced the mural site for years, said “I never knew this wall was here, now I definitely will notice it everyday, and I am on it!”