Allow us some creative liberty here. How well do you know your neighbors? Beyond a slight nod or subtle wave? We're guessing a "not well" or resounding "who?" about covers the gamut. Because, hey, we're right there with you.
One photography project has set out to change that expectation -- or at least bring new light to it, via a tiny home base of downtown Phoenix: the Garfield neighborhood.
The one-square-mile area lies east of the noted Roosevelt Row, just north of the high-rises of downtown proper. Loosely bound by Interstate 10 and Van Buren Street to the north and south and Seventh to Sixteenth streets to the west and east, Garfield is almost entirely residential, save for a few noted businesses like Welcome Diner.
It is among these homes that photographers Barni Qaasim, Chandra Narcia, and Diana Perez Ramirez found the subjects for their large-scale, multi-month endeavor, "Faces of Garfield." The community collection makes its public debut during a free exhibition this Third Friday at Verde Park, right in the neighborhood.
The three principal photographers have diverse backgrounds: Qaasim from Phoenix; Narcia from the Gila River Indian Community; and Ramirez from Tijuana, Mexico. The three founded Culture is Life, a collective of women of color who create community art projects. Media range from photography to film to graphic design, and works have tackled umbrella topics like immigration and indigenous heritage.
Arguably their most noted, and certainly most accessible, photo essay, "Faces of Garfield" consists of dynamic portraits -- often preferring face-on to profiles -- of neighbors from all backgrounds. The by-the-community, for-the-community project encourages longtime and short-term residents and friends to view their streets in a different light and through someone else's lens.
Until Friday's event, the three have used social media to share images and interact with the community. Through both Instagram and Facebook hashtags, the project encourages anyone with a camera or camera phone to participate and join the artistic conversation. The piece "allows the community to have more access to art that they can identify with but also give them the opportunity to be part of the art," according to the Faces of Garfield website.
"Faces of Garfield provides an opportunity for ALL [emphasis theirs] community members in this neighborhood to engage in cultural arts and inspire their creativity while building community cohesion simultaneously," the site continues.
The exhibition will be accompanied by live music from art-space staples like DJentrification and DJ Mr. PHX, as well as Garfield-based singer MysticBlu and rapper Maldito Angel.
Find the faces of friends (and maybe even your own) during the display from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 16, at Verde Park, 916 East Van Buren Street in downtown Phoenix. The event is free and open to the public. Visit www.facesofgarfield.org for more information.
Editor's note: This post has been modified from its original version.
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