When she moved to Franklinton in 2012, Gazala couldn’t have known how much her new home neighborhood would come to not only inform her art practice, which had always concerned issues of history, archaeology, place and agency, but to literally become it. She has operated Second Sight Project as gallery, studio, residency and laboratory for the past seven years, along the way becoming part of the community in more than physical ways.
Always looking for ways to engage her neighbors and Franklinton’s young people through her art, Gazala had approached Jessica McAdoo, director of Family and Community Engagement at Columbus Collegiate Academy, about providing augmented art opportunities for its middle school students. Around the same time, she discovered stories being shared on a Facebook group for people who grew up in Franklinton by a former resident named Mike Ingles. She put the two together, asking CCA students, as well as other groups of young people in the community with whom she works, including Girl Sprouts and the Dowd Education Center, as well as students at Ohio State, where Gazala is teaching as part of her master’s studies, to consider these personal stories of Franklinton’s history and create illustrations for them.
“Arts can keep kids motivated,” Gazala said, “and neighborhoods like ours are often the least likely to have built up the kind of social equity I hope to provide through the education offerings through Second Sight.
“This is not what I had planned when I came here. But the neighborhood is changing so rapidly, and the residents sometimes feel like they’re being steamrolled, so there’s some creating spatial justice in this program. History and justice are strongly connected, and if I can get some of that through the art ... I’d rather serve the neighborhood.”
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