VIEWS: Over-the-Rhine – 2002

On January 25, 2002, a photography exhibit entitled VIEWS: Over-the-Rhine opened to the public at the Miami University Center for Community Engagement at 1300 Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine. Designed and built by four students of the Miami UNiversity Department of Architecture and Interior Design working closely with the nationally exhibited local photographer Jimmy Heath and his students at the Over-the-Rhine Center for Community Photography, the exhibition portrayed the Miami students’ evolving understanding of the environment of Over-the-Rhine.

In their frequent walks through the community, the students documented their engagement with people currently living and working in Over-the-Rhine. In their time working with Jimmy Heath they helped organize an after-school photography club at the Center for Community Photography and taught a group of children from Over-the-Rhine the basics of camera usage. Photography proved to be a valuable tool for the children in capturing the images and moments associated with their community life. Selected photographs made by children were part of the final exhibition.

Within the exhibition, photographs were manipulated and expanded – some to larger than life proportions – so as to add a new layer of perception to the images. Many of the photographs were displayed via non-standard materials in unconventional ways, suspended behind window frames.

The exhibit challenged people to take away with them a heightened sense of Over-the-Rhine; a community rich in history, culture, and experience, and not a place to be merely gentrified. Such a portrayal is usually difficult to maintain within the incessant onslaught of the mainstream media and government officials who, too often, project a different portrayal. The photographs of the VIEWS: Over-the-Rhine exhibit spoke against that onslaught and contributed to the ongoing effort to dignify the community.