Paige Arnold ’23 and Mason Rickerd ‘22
Majors: Computer Science (Paige) and Digital Studies and English (Mason)
Affiliations: Honors College (Paige)
Faculty Mentors: Dr. James Brown, Director of the Digital Studies Center and Associate Professor of English, and Dr. Anthony Wright, Associate Director of the Digital Studies Center and Assistant Professor of Childhood Studies
Digital Studies Center (DiSC) researchers are currently working on a collaborative project with the Institute for The Development of Education In the Arts (IDEA), the Department of Childhood Studies, the Proof Lab, and a number of Camden community groups to build media projects that reimagine the history of Johnson Park and the Cooper Branch Library building (which now houses the Digital Commons). The project is a response to the frieze displayed on the side of the building. The frieze, entitled “America Receiving the Gifts of the Nation,” has become a site of controversy, as Camden community members have spoken out against its racist and demeaning imagery. The goal of the Johnson Park Media Projects is to work with the Camden community to reimagine the space of the park, including the frieze, transforming it from a “read only” space to a “read/write” space. In order to do this, we are working with youth media makers from IDEA in order to create various forms of media that can be displayed in the park.
In addition to the media-making side of the project, DiSC researchers are also carrying out a review of controversial monuments and public art across the United States. We are using the news archive newspapers.com to locate examples of such controversies in order to get a better sense of the various ways in which diverse communities have responded to specific monuments. With this database of collected articles, the project aims to create a map of America that will showcase controversial monuments in each state. The map will provide a visual representation of the extent to which such controversies have affected the nation as a whole, and it will offer brief summaries and images of the various cases. In our presentation, student researches will present some of the major themes and issues that have arisen in the cases we have found, and we will discuss how our work provides broader context for the controversy surrounding Johnson Park.