Execution: Incorporate research, images, interviews, personal experiences, prose and poetry. Assemble all final materials as a link stitch style book.
Proposal: For my thesis, I want to address two broad topics - the changes in/decline of the print industry, and the current socioeconomic state of my hometown, Philadelphia - which, through research and execution, will be compiled into an artist book, and broken down into a series of subsections which, ideally, will reveal the threads that bind these topics together (literally and metaphorically). I was born and raised in Philly, and hold the city and my experiences there very near and dear to my heart. My mother is an avid reader, and from the time I was very young, she spent hours with me in the library, instilling in me the sacred power of books and the printed word. Many years have passed, and much has changed since then. While studying at Lang/Parsons, I've learned nothing if not that given our ever-advancing technologies, printed matter as we know it (magazines, books, newspapers) is all but obsolete. Similarly, it was only through leaving Philly for the bustling epicenter of New York that I was able to look at my hometown through a different lens, and see for the first time the many social, political, and economic issues that plague the place I love so well. In spite of everything I've been taught, I still believe in books, and am perhaps stubbornly insistent on keeping them relevant. In our internet culture of e-readers and digitization, I think that artist books are one of the last tools to keep physical books viable, and that, contrary to the speculation of many, their value in our society will only continue to increase as other printed mediums become fewer and more far between; that people will become nostalgic for the tactility of pages, the skill of hand craft. It is with that same hopeful stubbornness that I believe in Philadelphia's potential. What began as a powerful hub of innovation and production, the city now has one of the highest poverty rates of any in America. Philly’s public schools are notoriously bad, the crime rates are higher than the skyscrapers, and adolescent boys are more likely to end up incarcerated than they are to graduate high school. A recent study found that 40% of children in Philly are living at, or below the poverty line . For one of the largest cities in the country, this statistic is abominable. Living in New York, it's impossible to even imagine that same problem here, despite the less than 100-mile distance between the cities.
In spite, or perhaps because of this, Philadelphia is one of the most spirited, communal cities I know. There is a distinct sense of camaraderie shared by Philadelphians that I've experienced nowhere else. I truly can’t think of one person I grew up with who doesn’t emphatically love Philadelphia. This paradoxical love of a city that on paper, seems to be failing its inhabitants, has always intrigued me, and it’s this paradox that I hope to shed light on through my thesis work. As a BAFA student, I’ve taken many poetry classes at Lang, and last year spent a semester creating a chapbook of poems on my coming of age in Philly. The poems were all research based, which was a style of writing I’d never done before, and one that I’ve grown to really love. I later revised this chapbook for a book making class I was taking at Parsons. I found the process of designing the layout and binding the book myself very intimate, and an appropriate way to channel the personal basis of the text. I’d like to continue to revise and expand upon this work for my thesis, creating a link stitch style artist book, comprised of many signatures, each with their own focus. It will no longer be just a book of poetry, although the poems will be part of the book. I want to do more personal writings for my project, and am planning on also including writings I’ve done for other classes that relate to the evolutions of the print industry as well. Since working on the original poem collection, I’ve been documenting personal and public (mostly Facebook) interactions between some of the people I’ve grown up with that have something to do with Philly. Most of these interactions have happened online, and I’m interested in exploring ways of incorporating these things into the book as well, which would create another link between modern digital communication/bookmaking, while being relevant to the topic of Philly. To further flesh out my project, I want to include relevant newspaper articles, images, research, and possibly info graphics on the current state of Philadelphia (as well as the print industry). Although the work has a very personal basis, I think that with the inclusion of outside sources, it has the potential to open up more into a commentary on the city as a whole- something that emphasizes that I am just one small part of an enormous, age old machine (like say, a printing press), which, to an outsider, may seem to be defunct, but that, upon closer examination, still has so much potential to offer.
Topics / Components: •Crime •Education •Decline of Industry/ Economic Status •Print in Philadelphia •My writing •Submissions (writing, images, etc) from peers •Photos
•"FactCheck: Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts." Philly.com. N.p., n.d. Web. •Deeney, Jeff. "Homicide Spike Terrorizes Philly." The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, n.d. Web. •"In Phila. and Elsewhere, Gun Sales Boom." Philly.com. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Murder Analysis Philadelphia Police Department 2007-2010." N.p., n.d. Web. •"Philadelphia Crime Rate Report (Pennsylvania)." Philadelphia Crime Statistics: Pennsylvania (PA). N.p., n.d. Web.
•"At Philadelphia's Masterman High, Mock Debate and Serious Citizenship." Philly.com. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Black Men Bring Positive Message to Philly Schoolchildren." Philly.com. N.p., n.d.Web. •"Cuts Have Consequences." Yinzercation.com N.p., n.d. Web. •"Fixing Philadelphia's Broken Pipeline to College." NewsWorks.org. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Hite to Announce Plans to Close 37 School Buildings." Philly.com. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Improving Education Options for Philly's Homeless Kids." NewsWorks.org. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Liar and a Cheat." Yinzercation. N.p., n.d. Web. •National Rank of Public Schools. U.S.News & World Report, n.d. Web. •"NJ Gov: Armed Guards Won't Make Schools Safer." NJ Gov: Armed Guards Won't Make Schools Safer. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Nutter: Arming All School Police 'ludicrous,' 'insane'" Philly.com. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Philadelphia’s Best High Schools: 2012 Guide | Philadelphia Magazine Articles." Philadelphia Magazine Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. •"The Rise and Fall of Philadelphia's Schools." PhillyHistory Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Top 10 Pennsylvania Elementary Schools." SchoolDigger. N.p., n.d. Web.
Decline of Industry/ Economic Status: •"Ah, Philadelphia before the Decline of Industrial America." N.p., n.d. Web. •"Design After Decline: How America Rebuilds Shrinking Cities." Penn Press. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Philadelphia Manufacturing Still in Decline, Fed Says." N.p., n.d. Web. •"Philadelphia's Industrial History: A Context and Overview." Workshop of the World. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Philly Gets a Credit Upgrade - Still, Only Detroit Has a Worse Rating | Philadel phia City Paper | 04/04/2012." Philly Gets a Credit Upgrade - Still, Only Detroit Has a Worse Rating | Philadelphia City Paper | 04/04/2012. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Reversing Philadelphia's Population Decline." Reversing Philadelphia's Population Decline. N.p., n.d. Web. •Stone, Daniel. "Is Philadelphia in Decline? New Report Shows a City With Marked Challenges." The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, n.d. Web. •"Poverty Rises in Phila., Suburbs, Census Study Finds." Philly.com. N.p., n.d. Web.
Print in Philadelphia: •"Archive of Poor Richard's Almanac." N.p., n.d. Web.
•"A Brief History of Early Publishing in Philadelphia." A Brief History of Early Publishing in Philadelphia. N.p., n.d. Web. •"The KJV Bible Was Produced in Philadelphia Church Period. (9 Minutes)." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. •"Never a Dull Moment: The Rough and Tumble History of Philadelphia Newspaper Publishing." PhillyHistory Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. •"The Transition to Digital Journalism." Print Editions Decline. N.p., n.d. Web.
General/Human Interest: •"5 Things ?uestlove Misses about Living in Philadelphia." Philly.com. N.p., n.d. Web. •"From Shackles to Social Worker: One Philly Woman's Story." Philly.com. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Now & Then: Modern and Historical Images of Philadelphia." Visual.ly. N.p., n.d.Web.
•"Parents Wary as Swings, Slides Come to Drug-plagued Kensington Park." Philly.com. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Philadelphia Man Spends $20,000 to Clean up 40 Tons of City Trash, Will Be Sued by Philadelphia." See You next Tuesday. N.p., n.d. Web. •"Philly Unveils World’s Largest T-Shirt Cannon; Haters Crying Themselves to Sleep; They Literally Cannot Believe It." Gawker.com. N.p., n.d. Web. •"The True Story of the Philadelphia Experiment 1." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. •"Urban Voids - Grounds for Change:[Philadelphia Background]." Urban Voids [design Ideas Competition]. N.p., n.d. Web.