Cultural Heritage Artists Project: The Orchard Street Shul
First Exhibition: December 6 2009 - January 31, 2010


The members of the Orchard Street Shul Cultural Heritage Project began with varying levels of familiarity with the story of immigration to New Haven at the turn of the 20th century, and the shared history of working class neighborhoods during a time of radical change throughout the United States.

Artists researched their projects through a variety of means including archival documentation, consulting with current and former congregants and area residents, creating their own records using photography, video and sound and translating original data into 3D scanning that aids in keeping cultural heritage alive. This collaborative effort culminated in an exhibition held at The John Slade Ely House in New Haven, Connecticut. The exhibition and accompanying project book are a collision of history and art in which the past unfolds the present to reveal what the future may hold for the OS and its neighborhood.

Cultural heritage is fluid concept, and this project successfully expanded notions of what the historic Orchard Street Shul site means for creative artists from all cultural backgrounds.

Context

The project was, at the outset, spurred by an urgent need to make the public aware of efforts to save a community building that has been designated a Historic Site by the State of Connecticut. The project is without religious mission, but rather is the outpouring of thoughtful response and integrated research by those who found the story of this building and community to be compelling.

One of the positive outcomes of the project is an ongoing dialogue among artists on the conceptual inspirations derived from interaction with the building, as a symbol of a community. We hope that this will be a prototype for similar future projects for other historic sites of meaning to other parts of our collective community and memory.

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