Stomping Grounds (Pilot, 2023)

Stomping Grounds deploys pinhole camera photography, story-telling, poetry, and community participation and engagement to explore memory, loss, and transformation. Paired with participants’ burning questions about their home landscape, we draw on the extraordinary depth of field made possible by pinhole photography—limited though it is by vignetting and distorted by high contrast, much like our memories—to document everyday landscapes and create representative collages of community, located in time and focused by participant perspective. Medium serves as metaphor.

Participants build (or borrow) their cameras, posit personally meaningful burning questions, and use participant observation, to capture their stomping grounds on film. Resulting photos combine in a community assemblage as a “quilt-portrait,” installed in a public space. Installation visitors of all ages are invited to contribute their own observations, memories, and photos to the collection to create a living exhibit that grows with each visitor.

Fundamentally, Stomping Grounds calls attention to the mechanisms by which community is made, sustained, and remembered by those who inhabit the site it occupies. By engaging a broad cross-section of communities with respect to gender, age, socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity, etc., the project seeds a path of inquiry and participation that is representative of diverse constituents, and it catalyzes, by definition and design, ongoing and expanding circles of community engagement. It fosters conscious democratic participation in creative placemaking.

“Stomping Grounds: Waltham, Massachusetts 2023” pilots the Stomping Grounds project. The resulting replicable model, based on the pilot, empowers future participating communities—rural and urban—to foster mutual and reciprocal community-making across diverse constituencies. Waltham leads the way.

2023 Partners include: Waltham Cultural Council, Mass Cultural Council.