Brian Malgieri, “Meet the Abstracts”

After going through the American education system as well as playing a role in it, working at a local middle school, I have grown to have strong opinions about certain aspects of it. One being the lack of self-reflection and acknowledgement of our own darker times and topics. These aspects are covered but I believe either too late, like in college, or are skimmed over too quickly to give the depth that they deserve. My experience only comes through the lens of the New York State education system. My inspiration for Meet the Abstracts comes from the current issues around the nation surrounding the teaching of Critical Race Theory and the general avoidance of putting ourselves in a bad light.

My project is designed to demonstrate the perceived division of our lives and to demonstrate the actual differing struggles that can be overlooked or reduced when trying to compare life. Especially from the perspective of the ruling narrative. By reducing images to tones and shapes, I hope to create an environment where the reader can fill the narrative with their own images and create a storyline that any reader can relate to while using their own experiences as a back bone for depth. In addition, with the online portion revealing what the images are actually based on, I hope to reveal to the reader their own pre-existing expectations and ignorances while highlighting white washed, “toned” down sides of a shared history.

The storyline of the book itself reflects the importance of learning about topics, people, and cultures before criticizing them. Of course, given the children’s book aspect of the book, it has a happy ending where people have listened and learned, becoming quick friends. Where in reality, we still struggle to consider other people’s unique perspectives. For my reference photos, I tried to choose moments that show the darker side of our shared history, how it has changed or rather stayed the same throughout the years, the leaders and movements that have come through it to promote a positive change, all while ending on another current event that is another paralleled situation derived from ignorance.

The following are the images used as references in order of appearance.

Marion Wolcott, “Coal Miner, His Wife, and Two Children” (Wikimedia); W.N. Manning, “Beatty-Mason House Slave Quarters” (Wikimedia); “Family of Slaves at the Gaines’ House” (Wikimedia); Russell Lee, “Negro Mother Teaching Children Numbers and Alphabet in Home of Sharecropper” (Library of Congress); “Klan in Gainesville” (Wikimedia); National Photo Company Collection, “Ku Klux Klan Parade in Washington, DC” (Wikimedia); Dorothea Lange, “McNews, 2-1/2 miles S.E. of Bakersfield, Kern County, California” (Wikimedia); “Elizabeth Eckford” (Wikimedia); “Mississippi KKK Conspiracy Murders” (Wikimedia); A.B. Frost, “In Self-Defense” (Wikimedia); Dave Mann, “Till Boy’s Funeral” (Wikimedia); “Quarter-plate Ambrotype of Frederick Douglass” (Wikimedia); “MLK and Malcolm X” (Wikimedia); “Robert F. Wagner With Little Rock Students” (Wikimedia); Warren K. Leffler, “Civil Rights March on Washington, DC Schools” (Wikimedia); “James Brock Pouring Muriatic Acid” (Wikimedia); “Justice for Daniel Prude–City Hall Protest, Sept 10 2020” (Wikimedia); “Lynching of Laura and L.D. Nelson” (Wikimedia); Fred Gildersleeve, “Jesse Washington Lynch Mob” (Wikimedia); “Secretary Johnson Pays Respect at Pulse Nightclub” (Wikimedia).

To view the digital content of “Meet the Abstracts,” click on this hyperlink.