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Art Exhibit — "Notes from Home"

By weaving together first-person storytelling, oral history, portrait photography and family archives, Notes from Home explores how the act of telling one’s own story affirms personal identity and offers the chance for life experiences to emerge reframed. This process-based project was made over several years of documentary work in New Brunswick, NJ and eventually resulted in a collaborative book of photography.

In this exhibition, portraits by Jonna McKone, Center for Documentary Studies’ Lewis Hine Fellow, are paired with work by contributors from the Price Family Fellows Program at Rutgers University. The stories explore ideas of family and home through archival photographs, images of family life and landscapes, recipes, maps and collaboratively developed portraits. Each artist’s story considers narrative, personal storytelling and growth in unique ways. In their collective words, “the concept of family is limitless and unconditional.”

In collaborating with McKone, the Price Family Fellows participated in workshops about photography, first-person writing, and collage. Each participant worked to create their own narrative of growing up as it informs the present, yet each person’s story is connected through experiences with the social welfare system. They explored identity, family history, homeplaces, love, and loss. These stories are about searching for moments that hold multiple truths, representations, and strengths.

Stories represented in this exhibit are from: Anthony, Autumn, Dios, Gisell, K’La, Mahogany, Mariah, and Stephanie. The work ranges from curated objects and ephemera, to digital and film photography, and writing. Medium format portraits by Jonna McKone ring the gallery space.

The book, Notes from Home, featuring the works of eight contributors is forthcoming through Rutgers University Press and Jet Age Books & Works, with support from the Center for Documentary Studies, Rutgers School of Social Work, and the Price Family Fellows Program.

About Jonna McKone

Jonna McKone is a photographer, filmmaker and producer whose work blends documentary, archives and the abstract to explore the connections between land, power and memory. Jonna won a 2021 Baker Artist Award for film; she was a resident artist at Platteforum, a VisArts Studio Fellow, a Rubys Artist Project grantee, and a fellow at Skidmore’s Storytellers Institute in 2015. She was a Lewis Hine fellow in 2017-2018. She is currently at work on a project about former plantation sites, supported by a Chesapeake Heartland Community Curation Fellowship, a project of Washington College and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. She teaches at Maryland Institute College of Art and UMBC. Her first feature film as a producer, All Light, Everywhere , premiered in Sundance’s U.S. Documentary Competition in 2021 where it won a Special Jury Award for Experimentation in Nonfiction.

[Photo by Dios]