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Sponsored by NATURE Lab (North Troy Art, Technology,and Urban Research in Ecology) at The Sanctuary for Independent Media.
The inspiration for this site-specific museum is digital folk artist and journalist Brenda Ann Kenneally’s decade long, transmedia documentary, Upstate Girls: Unraveling Collar City. Kenneally’s connection to the North Troy Community that she documents is sustained by the core belief that telling one’s own story in a deeply personal way can be the strongest political action an individual can take. This intersection of personal and political will set the tone for the partnership between Kenneally, The Sanctuary For Independent Media, and the North Troy Neighbors that have become active participants in the preservation of their own histories.
The goal of this museum is to perpetuate and preserve the creation of a rich and detailed platform for engagement with its North Troy Neighborhood. The museum itself will be housed in a building that appears in The Upstate Girl’s Documentary as it is the former home of a family that Kenneally chronicled. The story of the building itself will serve as a bullet point ( see timeline below) for 2008. The family who lived there was forced to leave after a series of bank and real estate missteps, that were set in motion by the financial crumble in 2008. The building stayed vacant and fell into disrepair until it was acquired by The Sanctuary For Independent Media in 2014, to be repurposed as a community art space.
Since 2004, Kenneally has made still photographs, filmed videos, lead participatory scrapbooks workshops, and collected ephemera from an extended family of young people as they have come of age on one block in North Troy, New York. Troy’s rich history as a prototype for the Industrialization of America became an integral character in the work in 2008 when Kenneally began researching and collecting historic photographs, texts, ephemera and scrapbooks from The Rennslear County Historical Society. Kenneally’s obsession with contextualizing the stories of the young people who she has documented and situating these stories alongside those of their Victorian counterparts will lead to an invaluable legacy of American Post- Industrial Culture.
The Key elements of this hyper-local collection are:
- A historic timeline mural to run along the bottom half of the walls. The timeline will date back to the Paleo Indian’s (Hudson Valley’s first inhabitants) and will be a constant work in progress that will reflect the most recent events to affect the community. The timeline will include landmark events in industry, government, and economic, social, and environmental policy. These major milestones will carry equal weight with macro event like births and deaths of current residents. It is meant to demonstrate the relationship between progress and the evolution of public attitudes and policies policy and the changing significance of the individual. The timeline is to be vetted by historian Kathy Sheehan of The Rennslaer County Historical Society.
- A memorial collection of newspaper articles and television clips documenting youth whose lives were lost too early in North Troy- community is encouraged to bring and share personal photos – cell phone – face book pages ect. There will be a guest book to share memories as well.
- A video room to project a repository of videos made by neighborhood filmmakers- subjects include; youth media documentaries, videos of community events and Kenneally’s own interactive documentary that uses a Troy specific collection of keywords to allow the viewer to navigate through clips. Many of the keywords are reflected in the timeline and lead the viewer to make connections between the past and present.
- Large scale prints of Contemporary and Victorian Scrapbooks and two monitors with heads sets view narrated multimedia.
- A display of historic photos, postcards and neighborhood maps- including local directories of residents of the neighborhood in the early 1900’s
- A 4 x6 snapshot wall and a monitor to display donations of cell phone pictures on a loop– this will be updated regularly and after a period of time become archived as part of the collection and started a new- likely this could occur annually.
- Five Transmedia Books made by Kenneally in partnership with Rochester Institute of Technology. The books document the coming of age of young people in The North Troy Community between the years 2004- 2014. Books will have video stills to drive the narrative and are interactive with Kenneally’s video. Book Three is an integrated History of Collar City- Troy’s nickname during its heyday as a leading textile manufacturer.
- Ongoing Portrait series of current residents of North troy hung alongside portraits of Key local historical figures. The contemporary series began as a free holiday portrait event at The Sanctuary For Independent Media in 2012. The participants were presented with digital files of their studio portraits and those who agreed had their images become part of a growing archive of portraits of our North Troy Neighborhood. Through a donation of equipment we are able to make this an annual event. This even will also serve as an opportunity for the community to engage with the museum and make additions to the collection by donating personal pieces of history of remembrances to the memorial.
- StoryCandles was created by Brenda Kenneally, co-produced by Kathryn Draper with additional support from Stacey Draper and others at the Rensselaer County Historical Society, is a 16-foot cargo trailer transformed into a participatory travelling installation to honor the children from Breathing Lights’ communities whose lives have ended too soon. The “memory bank” is a collection of words, pictures and audio reflections culled from these communities to form an open-ended collage to keep the stories of these young people alive. Many thanks to the dedicated artists and research librarians who made this installation possible.
First exhibit of North Troy Peoples’ History Museum: 9/30 – 12/17 . By appointment. Visit www.mediasanctuary.org for reservations.
A concerted effort will be made to position this museum, not as an ephemeral work of art, but as a living history and as such, out reach to teachers, activists, and those who engage with youth via the therapeutic and justice systems will be vigorous.
More about Brenda Ann Kenneally:
Brenda Ann Kenneally is a Guggenheim and Soros Criminal Justice Media Fellow. She attended the University of Miami, where she earned a B.S. in sociology and photojournalism, and New York University, where she received an M.A. in studio art. Kenneally has focused on how families get lost in a culture of drugs and prison. She searches for ways to motivate inner-city women to empower themselves, despite their limited social and economic opportunities. Kenneally’s work has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Ms. Magazine, among other publications. In 2000, she won the Community Awareness Award from the National Press Photographer’s Association, and in 2001 she was awarded the International Prize for Photojournalism in Gijon, Spain. Kenneally’s work in Brooklyn has received support from the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, the Mother Jones Documentary Fund, and the Nikon Sabbatical Grant, in addition to the Open Society Institute. Kenneally has worked with us exhibiting her photos, teaching photojournalism workshops, and curating several exhibitions.
Learn more about Brenda Ann Kenneally at her website: