All posts by Jennifer Bastian

Who Matters

On two separate days in August and September, I photographed groups of intergenerational relationships at the Madison Public Library’s Central Branch. This project was co-hosted in partnership with the Bubbler (as I was artist in residence), with a Madison Public Library Community Engagement Librarian, Mary Fahndrich, and the Madison Senior Center’s Multigenerational Coordinator, Laurie Bibo.

This project celebrates and gives exposure to the meaningful, loving relationships that exist across generations in Madison, WI. The photographs below (and many more!) will be exhibited at the Central Library and the Senior Center this winter. Prints and digital files of the images will also be given to the participants free of charge.

The partnership created between myself, the Senior Center and the Library has plans to continue this project into the next few years and casting a wider net across the community, to other libraries and senior centers.

What is the Matter?

During August and September of 2017, I was the artist-in-residence for the Bubbler at the Madison Public Library’s Central branch.

The project of this residency was entitled  “What is the Matter” and focused on problem solving for the patrons of the library and the community at large. There were workshops on conflict resolution, intergenerational photography sessions, and weekly problem solving sessions, which began as one on one meetings and often grew into group conversations to solve one participant’s problem.

There was also a more passive project that I took very little intervention in, where a board for “problems” and a board for “solutions” existed outside the residency space. Patrons could list a problem of their own, and help solve the problems that others had listed. Examples of that can be seen in the photos below. At the end of the second month, I hosted a potluck and attendees solved the several problems that had not yet been taken care of.

These problems and solutions will be made into a small book that will be available to the public in the Bubbler. In addition to the problems and solutions, there will be a small appendix in the back of the book sharing the practical and necessary resources I learned about throughout the course of the residency while trying to solve some of the problems our community is faced with.

How We Keep Our Fears

I am a photographer. I carry a camera around and record imagery that expresses the feelings I have about my life. The photographs are an attempt to bridge the gap between your life and mine. I see things that you might also see, I feel things that you might also feel.

I am afraid all of the time. Of losing my family, my friends, my country, my life. Those who know me know I’ve had several experiences one might call “near death.”

Walking through life holding my breath and waiting for the next dangerous experience to befall me is no way to live. Yet fear lingers.

So I ask questions. Who else is afraid? Is everyone? I want to learn from people I know, people I have not yet met, people I will likely never meet. I want to hear their stories. Try to comprehend fears I have never been exposed to, pull myself out of my own experience for long enough to feel something different. Shake myself out of complacency and remember that there are many other realities in the world.

The first time I started asking people questions, it saved my life. I was severely depressed and was turned completely inward. I realized that if I did not reach out and discover how other people coped with the same life struggles, I wasn’t sure where I would end up. People were generous, they answered, and it propelled me forward. I felt lucky (and selfish!) and I wanted to know more.

So I continue to photograph. I continue to ask questions.

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35: Volume Three