The Stories Cities Tell

By March 1, 2015 A&V 2015 No Comments

Earlier today I was driving through what many would deem a crummy neighborhood—a ghetto. The streets were cracked and pocked with potholes. The buildings were littered in graffiti. A group of old men caught my eye as I was stopped at a stop sign. They were perched on the street corner in cheap plastic chairs playing a game of dominoes. I’m guessing one of them won big because he was in the process of laughing at the guy across from him, who was cursing in creole. I don’t know creole, but I know he was cursing. I think it was their laughing—their utter sense of ease that caused me to take another look at the neighborhood. It wasn’t such an ugly place at that moment. It was actually quite beautiful.

About a month back, our Aesthetics and Values class (the class responsible for putting together the exhibition in April) met up at the Perez Art Museum in downtown Miami. If you haven’t been to the Perez Art Museum you should go. The place is unbelievably relaxing, and they have plenty of beautiful and interesting art. At the museum, we met up with Adler Guerrier—a Port-au-Prince native who moved to Miami at a young age. If you attended the Aesthetics and Values Exhibit last year you might be familiar with his work. During our visit at the Perez, Guerrier had an exhibit featuring his work. The collection contained a wide array of art that employed urban elements to make a statement. There was photography, sculptures, printmaking, signs, and even mixtures of all those elements. His use of typography was especially interesting. Guerrier said that he likes print for the multiplicity of the medium. The idea behind print was that it was designed to communicate to the masses, while painting is a singular entity that is somewhat limited in viewership.

Alder at the Perez

Guerrier feels that cities have stories to tell, and it is his job to bring those stories out in different ways and from different viewpoints—for that is what cities do, in their signs, in the cracks the of their streets, and the words etched in paint across their walls.

I encourage all of you to take a closer look at the cities and towns you live in. The neighborhoods you’ve played in. What are the stories they tell?