Capturing Community Through the Lens in Newburgh

Photo by Therese Fisher via Newburgh Community Photo Project

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    Barbershops hold a particular place in community life, a common space where connections are forged and experiences shared. In Newburgh, N.Y. a recent collaborative project sought to capture the importance of those spaces in the life of the city.

    The Newburgh Community Photo Project, a grassroots arts education program, recently brought together a team of photographers and interviewers to document the African-American and Latino barbers of the city. Local photographers captured the action at nine of the roughly 22 barbershops in the 3.8 square mile city. While their work provided visual documentation, interviewers sought to bring out personal stories of work, community and change.

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    Photo by David Cordero via Newburgh Community Photo Project

    The resulting photos and clips from the interviews will be featured in the upcoming exhibition “Newburgh Barbershops: Shaping Community,” which runs from March 31 through June 1. The barbershop collaboration is one program in a larger two-year project, Frederick Douglass in Newburgh, which celebrates Douglass’ 1870 visit to the city and the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment which gave black men the right to vote.

    Douglass arrived in Newburgh on August 11, 1870, as part of a trip through the Hudson Valley to celebrate the ratification of the amendment. According to the project, more than 4,000 people journeyed to the city to hear him speak. Douglass took part in a march on Washington Street, spoke at a local opera house and visited the AME Zion Church. Numerous local history, preservation, social justice and education organizations are collaborating on the two-year project to raise awareness of African-American history and create conversations, exhibitions and other public programs centered on civic engagement and voter rights.

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    Photo by Ronnie Farley via Newburgh Community Photo Project

    The Newburgh Community Photo Project exhibition, done in collaboration with the Awesome Newburgh Foundation, runs from March 31 through June 1, 2019, and is viewable on Saturdays from 12 to 6 p.m. or by appointment. The gallery is located at 102 South William Street. For more information visit the Newburgh Community Photo Project page here.

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