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Volunteers share community's perspective in arts-based 'Same Story' project

Lynnette Overby (center) and UD undergraduate Rachel Austin (left) speak with Colleen Leda and her son Jahnae Leda about the photos they've taken in their community.

The music and poetry have been written, the history studied, works of art painted, dances choreographed and months of rehearsals completed — all in preparation for a series of performances of “Same Story” Different Countries, a project exploring racial issues in the U.S. and South Africa through the arts.

But another part of the multidisciplinary project is still wrapping up, as a dozen or so Wilmington, Delaware, residents work to share their photographs and stories about their community.

Some of those volunteers met Thursday, Feb. 25, at the downtown Christina Cultural Arts Center (CCAC), one of the University of Delaware’s partners in the project, to continue their work that will be exhibited at the final performance of “Same Story, scheduled for March 13 at the Baby Grand in Wilmington.

The Leda family, who joined the project because 12-year-old Jahnae already enjoyed photography, reviewed the images they’ve taken around Delaware’s largest city. Jahnae showed his photos of birds and squirrels, describing the feeling of those images as “peaceful,” while his parents, Colleen and Jahtenny Leda, focused more on people, buildings and industrial scenes.

Jahtenny Leda, a longshoreman at the Port of Wilmington, has taken photos along the city’s waterways, showing not only the redeveloped recreational Riverfront area but also some long-closed manufacturing sites and an area where homeless people gather.

“I like the idea of taking pictures of a neighborhood,” said Colleen Leda, “because if you go back and look at them in 10 years, you know it will have changed. I’ve lived in my neighborhood for 14 years, and I’ve seen it change a lot.”

For Kim Graham, a lifelong Wilmington resident who is a director at CCAC and a 1987 UD graduate, her purpose in taking photos for the project is to create thought-provoking images. She has photographed commercial buildings along Market Street, for example, showing the ground-floor modern retail spaces in contrast to the more old-fashioned upper stories that often reflect the building’s history.

One of Graham’s favorite photos for the project is a view outside Wilmington’s Louis L. Redding City-County Building that includes a statue of Redding. The civil rights pioneer, Delaware’s first African American lawyer, argued for school desegregation in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Graham’s photos of the Redding statue include a large clock and a “Don’t Walk” traffic signal in the foreground, which might make people think, she said, about whether progress has halted, or if time is running out, in the struggle for civil rights and equal education.

The volunteers all shared their photos and also told their stories about taking them at the CCAC workshop. UD student research assistant Rachel Austin and adjunct faculty member A.T. Moffett joined Lynnette Overby, professor of theatre and an artistic director for the “Same Story” project, in interviewing the participants and recording their stories.

For more about “Same Story” Different Countries, see the previous UDaily article.

March 4-5: Dance minor concert

Campus performances of“Same Story” Different Countries will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 4 and 5, as this year’s Dance Minor spring concert, in Mitchell Hall.

On Friday, March 11, lecture-demonstrations will be held at 9:30 a.m. and noon, followed by an evening performance with other South African artists, all at the Schwartz Theatre in Dover, Delaware.

On Saturday, March 12, a 5:30 p.m. performance will be held in Mitchell Hall, as part of the Master Players world music concert featuring 6ixwire, in collaboration with the "Same Story" project.

A final performance will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 13, in the Baby Grand, Wilmington, where the community volunteers’ photos and stories will be on exhibit.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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An arts-based project exploring racial issues in the U.S. and South Africa will also feature community photographs taken by Wilmington, Delaware, residents.
UD's "Same Story" Different Countries project, which uses the arts to explore racial issues in the U.S. and South Africa, will also include photographs taken by Wilmington, Delaware, residents of their community.
3/3/2016
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