In 2004, Preservation Durham's survey of East Durham was instrumental in getting the neighborhood added to the National Register of Historic Places. The survey required the photographic documentation of over 1600 properties. Historic districting gives homeowners the opportunity to apply for generous state Historic Tax credits, thus providing the impetus for the revitalization of East Durham.
Throughout history art has been a catalyst for change. The October Revolution, Object Orange in Detroit, the Obama campaign. Artists have affected the course of history for kings, presidents, countries and civilizations. Art holds the power to sway social momentum, but it doesn't always operate on such a grand scale. Sometimes art hits closer to home. Sometimes it is born to a city block.
Not everyone sees the potential of abandoned properties. There are many negative aspects associated with vacant buildings. Especially when they lay vacant for long periods of time, yet these dormant properties have architectural and historic value worthy of revival. New Neighbors seeks to highlight the unrealized potential of abandoned properties in a Historic District Neighborhood in East Durham.
It's a community outreach and arts initiative rolled into one local project. Vacant buildings share one thing in common — empty or boarded up windows. What if we could visualize new neighbors living in abandoned properties? Fleeting glimpses of them going about their day and doing everyday activities. Not in a particularly voyeuristic way, but in an "I feel good knowing someone has moved in," kind of way. This is precisely what the New Neighbors project creates.
Empty and boarded up windows on the facades of vacant buildings and homes provide the backdrop for bright, boldly colored illustrations of virtual occupants. Images capture new neighbors living their lives in all their mundane glory. Casting a spotlight on these buildings which are primed for transformation, a neighborhood renaissance and New Neighbors.
Project Details, Impact, and Press:
Community-based art project in conjunction with year-long Artist Residency at Golden Belt in Durham, NC through the Durham Art Guild/ Approximately 50 paintings derived from photographs of Durham, NC residents were installed on the facades of 4 abandoned homes and 1 empty school, all on the same block. They were subject to weathering for 6 weeks before being collected and auctioned off for charity. / Work auctioned to raise money for Project R.E.D. (Rebuilding East Durham) and the Durham Art Guild / Exhibited at Golden Belt and Outsider Art and Collectibles in Durham, NC / Featured on "The State of Things" radio show with Frank Stasio — listen here (10:47) / A nice collection of the paintings can be viewed over wonderful ice cream at The Parlour in downtown Durham, NC / There's a nice piece here written in anticipation of the opening on Bull City Rising and an exquisite history of the Y.E.Smith building, including documentation of its post-New Neighbors renaissance here.