Marquale Johnson, 13, (left) and Shadasia Stanley, 13, were picked from SU’s Photography and Literacy project to be featured on billboard on the corner of West Fayette St. and Franklin. (Photo by Frank Ordonez / The Post-Standard)
Syracuse, N.Y. — Who are those three smiling kids on the split-image billboard on Syracuse’s Near West Side?
They are the first stars of a billboard series called Iconic Syracuse. The left side of the billboard shows a 19th-century photo of snowy Syracuse with people in a street; next to it is the painted-image of the three kids bundled in wintry clothes.
The billboard can be seen near West Fayette and West streets. Previous billboards have all been street scenes.
Two of the children saw the billboard for the first time this week. They oohed and ahhed as they stepped out of a van to get a look at it.
“It’s actually a little more superior than what I was thinking,” said Shadasia Stanley, 13, an eighth-grader at Danforth Middle School, and one of the three. “It’s bigger and more colorful.”
The boy on the left is Marquale Johnson, 13, an eighth-grader at Cedar Street School.
The girl in the foreground is Onhsti Pegan, 10.
All three students have participated in Syracuse University’s Photography and Literacy (PAL) Project, which is housed at SU’s Warehouse, across the street from the billboard. Through PAL, Syracuse University students mentor city school pupils using cameras as tools of self-expression. Johnson, in particular, has taken to the camera, creating self-portraits with words and images, and photographing events at P.E.A.C.E. Inc.’s Southside Family Resource Center, said Lori Covington, adult coordinator of the center on West Castle Street.
The students were chosen for the billboard from their after-school program at P.E.A.C.E. Covington thought having local faces on a billboard at a prominent city entry point could have the potential for a terrific self-esteem boost for the children. It seems to have worked.
“I actually liked the idea when Miss Lori told me about it,” said Stanley. “She picked the few students that were really good at the center. It’s good to be known as a civilized person with leadership qualities.”
The 19th-century image shows a horse pulling a sleigh on University Avenue, near the intersection of Madison Street, said Dennis Connors, curator of history at the Onondaga Historical Association. The figures in the foreground are young boys.
The billboard is part of a year-long series called Iconic Syracuse that aims to highlight the historic continuity between the city’s culture and architecture, then and now.
Last fall, Greg Mawicke, a fifth year industrial design major from Milwaukee, met the three students and photographed them under the West Street railroad bridge. He had illustrated other scenes for the Iconic Syracuse series, each inspired by a historic photograph. For this snowy scene he wanted to paint images of real people. He developed the painting from his photograph.
After Johnson saw himself on the billboard he was asked how he’d rate it on a five-star system.
“A hundred stars,” he said. “No, a million.”
Dave Tobin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 470-3277.
The Link Gallery at the Warehouse
PAL Project collaboration with Edward Smith School
Public Reception: Thursday, December 6th, 5-7PM
Location: 350 West Fayette Street
Like the Raindrops on the Windshield
Adolescence is a time of seeking, of creating, of defining self. The choices children make determine their futures, and the adults involved in children’s lives often play an intricate role in children’s development, good or bad. They can strengthen or hinder a child’s development in the process of the formation of identity.
Students at Edward Smith were asked to read “Abuela Invents the Zero,” by Judith Ortiz Cofer, and reflect on Constancia’s relationship with her Abuela. After extensive work with analysis and theme, they were given the following writing prompt:
After reading “Abuela Invents the Zero” and seeing Constancia’s relationship with her Abuela, think for a moment about the adults in your life. Who comes to mind? Which adult in your life has had the most impact on you (good or bad)? Take a moment to write about the person in your life who has influenced you. Why is the person important to you? What does he or she do that matters to you? Write about the person.
When they finished writing, they were asked to think of an object that symbolically represented the person they chose. They then created poems about their chosen people and their relationship to them. They had to make a symbolic connection between the person and the object. A narrative form with free verse was encouraged, but they had freedom to use whatever form they chose.
Finally, students worked with Mr. Mahan on his PAL Project to take photos and to join their words with pictures, a collaborative process that produced true beauty.
Each week the girls from the North Side Learning Center (NSLC) gather at SU’s Warehouse with excitement. It’s such a pleasure to watch them express themselves thru writing and photography. Our most recent project was blending two photographs together to produce a unique design. Here are some of their masterpieces.
Students in Mr. Lutwin’s English 12 class take photographs based on their journal responses to class readings.
Poems and photographs from students at P.E.A.C.E., Inc. Work by students Marquale, Chy-la, and Tanaia.
Hillside Work Scholarship Connection students from Fowler high school were asked to study and consider the civil rights movement and what it means to them personally. They considered many of the inequities between blacks and whites and using photography and imaging software created artworks that were most meaningful and relevant to them.
In the end we realize that much has been done to lessen the inequities between the races, but there is still much work to be done.