Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ms. Dorothy

To see a new post written by Wes Janz, go to "First Name Basis (Part 1)" at the Design Altruism Project blog written and edited by David Stairs, the founder of Designers Without Borders.

In the photo, Ms. Dorothy (standing) talks with Katie, a student enrolled in the Department of Architecture at Ball State University.

Dorothy was a spokesperson for the resident community of Colonial Park Apartments, a property rehabilitated by Partners in Housing Development Corporation of Indianapolis, Indiana.

According to the PIHDC website, "Over the past 15 years, Partners has renovated or adapted ten rental properties, creating more than 400 units of supportive housing and serving 500+ families and individuals. Our mission is to create safe, affordable housing to sustain life for special needs populations, then to network with social services and address the root causes of homelessness. At Partners we're interested in permanent recovery from homelessness."

Dorothy spoke with me and students as part of our Spring 2007 semester at the Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry studying "One Small Project: Seeking Relevance in the Lives of Leftover People." On a return visit, Katie and I and a few of her classmates participated in an afternoon of quilting with Dorothy and other residents.

For the semester's culminating show at the Dean Johnson Gallery in downtown Indianapolis, Katie created the piece shown above, titled "Hindrance," which she interpreted as follows:

A door can be open or closed, either allowing or preventing those to pass through its threshold. It is in this same manner that one can be allowed or denied access to opportunities throughout one’s lifetime. Pushing through one door may be with ease, but the next may require much effort, and that may not even be enough. Closed door after closed door establishes a barrier that one may never overcome.

The collection of doors represents numerous barriers, whether it is getting accepted into graduate school, overcoming differing cultures, finding a place to sleep for the night, or obtaining a green card. The unbiased character of the barrier makes it universal and therefore unavoidable for people of many backgrounds.

[The residential doors are remains of a recent demolition on the corner of New York and Marsh Street in Muncie, IN and the remainder are those found at a Ball State University facility for discarded materials]

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