We’ve photographed organizations, colleges, and entire high schools, but what if we could show the diversity, commonality, and good deeds of a city with the project? Rather than just using the thousands of photos we already had for our first exhibit at an art museum, we decided to only feature people that live, work, and play in the Fitchburg, MA area. For six months, we photographed and worked with a wide variety of groups, and people were excited to represent their city with their good deeds and challenge any negative stereotypes not only of themselves but about Fitchburg. In the end we covered the walls of the Fitchburg Art Museum’s Community Gallery with the photos and stories of 424 people. To improve the accessibility of the exhibit, we also produced two booklets, a large print guide, and a Spanish translation of all of the text in the exhibit.
For the opening reception we wanted to do more than just show the finished product, we wanted to encourage conversation. In addition to keeping the theme of community by having sponsors and food from local businesses, and a silent auction with items from local businesses and artists, we assembled a diverse panel of figures from around the city to discuss labels and stereotypes along with their own personal experiences. There was standing room only for a powerful discussion about race, religion, sexuality, occupation, and physical and mental conditions that included audience members sharing their own stories as well.
“The show seemed to really captivate and engage visitors. Many spent time looking for familiar faces and reading through the labels and good deeds. I think any opportunity for people to question their assumptions, or find some commonality with someone they might not expect, is incredibly important. That's exactly what this show did.” —Barbara Callahan, Education Fellow, Fitchburg Art Museum