Category Archives: Harrisburg

Farewell, Harrisburg

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Six years ago, when I moved into this apartment at the Simon Cameron School, I was working long days—shooting photos during the day and bartending at Speakeasy at night… One night, after closing the bar, I dragged ass down the hallway of my place, dumped my bags right in the middle of the floor and thought, “I am so fucking glad to be home.”

I felt this very sweet, exhausted joy as I realized that this was the first time I felt like I was “home” since I was in high school. It was so profound. I leaned up against the wall and wept… and then laughed. And crawled in to bed.

I loved this apartment in this place with all of you people.

With the help of a small army, I moved out last month. I said goodbye to my apartment in a fit of tears and red wine. I’m sure I could have found another apartment in Harrisburg, but I’ve been restless for months. It felt like time to go.

I’m thankful that I didn’t leave Harrisburg because I dislike it or I’m running from something… I thrive when I’m traveling and I’m stoked to put myself in a state of agitation to push forward and grow.

I am filled with gratitude for everyone who helped me… whether you came over and kept me company, helped me sort and pack, fed me hot dogs and grilled veggies, or did the heavy lifting. Moving sucks. Y’all are true friends. I appreciate you.

I made my way to Asbury Park for the summer to live with my friend, Jill, and to do a residency at Parlor Gallery. Months ago, I approached Juicy Jenn, my friend and one of the owners of the gallery, and told her that I wanted to photograph women at home. I adore environmental portraiture and I’m so excited to make images of women in their residence—in their space.

At the time, it was so silly that I didn’t realize the significance of losing my own home and wanting to make these images. Everything has slowly shifted into focus though. What wasn’t a thought at the time now seems so obvious.

Dearest Harrisburg, you are the biggest part of my heart. Thank you for being so tender. Thank you for being my home.

Love always,

Fresh

You Saved HACC Arts: Shawna Purdy-Beaver & Ariana Bronson

How profound it is to be resilient… Thanks to the students who took time to share their stories with me. Thank you for demonstrating strength in community and the value of art. And thank you to HACC for listening to the needs of your students and community.

You saved HACC Arts.

A few weeks ago, students and professors at Harrisburg Area Community College quickly took action, organized, and worked with the college’s administration to restore arts courses that had recently been removed from the curriculum.

Due to their efforts, five of the six courses have been reinstated for the Fall 2018 class schedule and HACC’s President, Dr. John “Ski” Sygielski, has promised that the college will continue to better assess the needs of it’s students.

https://theburgnews.com/news/hacc-restores-arts-offerings-in-response-to-complaints-from-students

I spent time with some of the students who are not only enrolled currently in those classes, but are part of a tight-knit community of makers thriving and supporting each other through the arts programs at HACC. As of Wednesday, they are relieved and excited to continue their arts education here at the community college.

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Shawna Purdy-Beaver throwing in the ceramics studio at HACC. March, 2018.

Shawna Purdy-Beaver originally worked as a hairdresser and hair educator in Harrisburg. In 2013, after owning two different salons, raising her children, and getting married, she decided to go back to school. Shawna started taking photography courses at HACC… which led her to explore glass art and eventually, ceramics as well. “I fell in love with ceramics!” she states passionately.

Shawna hopes to eventually open an arts center. She has always loved to teach and is fervent about the ‘desire in [her] heart’ to open a place in Harrisburg where people of all ages can come to learn to be makers of art. Agency through art and the programs at HACC helped her discover her own gifts and she wants to help others do the same. “When you get involved in the arts you always hear people say, ‘I always wanted to try that…,’ and I want to have a place where people can try it. I don’t care if you’re 80 or 95 [years old],” she says, “come on in here. We’ll find you a slow wheel and some soft clay and we’ll teach you how to throw.”

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Ariana Bronson shows her classmates, Megan Caruso and Allanah Green, the progress she has made experimenting with crystalline glazes in the ceramics studio at HACC. March, 2018.

Ariana Bronson was homeschooled and cyber-schooled before coming to HACC to study ceramics in the Fall of 2015. Ari comes from a family that cherishes the arts and, as a result, states that she has, “always had a tactile sense of learning.” Acknowledging the cost of tuition at four year institutions and hoping to avoid extraneous debt, she values her education and resources here at the community college. A large portion of her time in the studio is dedicated to experimenting with and developing her own crystalline glazes and building a portfolio to apply to four year schools to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

“I’ve been president of the ceramics club at HACC for the past two years,” she says. “It has been what I consider to be one of the most valuable learning experiences in my life so far. The sense of community that we have and share is like no other.”

Save HACC Arts: Allanah Green & Roderick Dixon

Students and professors at Harrisburg Area Community College recently discovered that the college has cut valuable courses from the arts program. Strategically, as enrollment for the next semester opened, classes including ceramics, screen-printing, printmaking, and glass quietly disappeared from the catalog.

Last week, I spent time with some of the students who are not only enrolled currently in those classes, but are part of a tight-knit community of makers thriving and supporting each other through the arts programs at HACC.

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Allanah Green in the hot shop of Harrisburg Area Community College. March, 2018.

Although she initially came to HACC for equestrian studies, Allanah was always fascinated with glass. When she learned that the program existed, she quickly switched her major to pursue Fine Arts. Following the switch, her life was quickly consumed by glass. “[The hot shop] was the first place I felt accepted.” After graduating, she continues to audit the class–building a portfolio to apply to bachelors programs at four year art schools. Without access to the shop, she will not be able to build a glass portfolio.

The shop, tucked behind the Rose Lehrman Arts Center is student maintained and also partially student built. “I fix everything,” she states confidently. She is adamant about how important it is to be trained in the maintenance of the shop in addition to developing skills as a maker. Students here develop well rounded, valuable skills that make them strong assets to programs at other schools and established glass shops.

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Roderick (Rod) Dixon sitting with his classmate and friend, Allanah Green, before heading into the hot shop at HACC. March, 2018.

This isn’t Rod Dixon’s first experience at Harrisburg Area Community College. Initially, Rod came to HACC to pursue a career change in 2002. He received an Associates in Web Design and subsequently moved on to Duquesne University, finishing a Bachelor of Science in Leadership and Computer Systems Technology and then a Masters in Information Systems from Shippensburg University. Since then, he has been working as a business professional in the Harrisburg area.

After purchasing a new camera, Rod eventually returned to HACC in 2014 to take a beginning digital photography class. Once again realizing his endless capacity for learning, he began to foster his new curiosity for the arts in photography. While waiting for photography courses to be offered in the evenings to accommodate his schedule, Rod was also introduced to glass. He immediately fell in love with the process and the hot shop promptly became a happy home for his creativity. Currently, Rod is working on an Associates in Fine Arts in Photography with a focus in Glass Arts at HACC as well as a MBA from Western Governors University and hopes to eventually open an arts focused business.

“The possibility that we won’t have this anymore is extremely disheartening.” Rod speaks sweetly of Allanah, his other classmates, and future students who will potentially never have the opportunity to explore glass art. He has found camaraderie and community through the arts program, specifically the glass courses, at HACC. “Glass forces you to form a bond,” Allanah adds. The hot shop can be a dangerous environment and it is crucial to communicate clearly, trust each other, and develop supportive, nurturing relationships as classmates and fellow makers.

Rod is determined to help the administration come up with solutions to keep these classes in the community college. “To figure out ways to try to save this program is on the top of my agenda… to push [HACC] to do the right thing.”

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Please consider signing the student petition below and share your personal stories about HACC Arts with the hashtag #saveHACCarts.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/764/582/810/save-the-arts-at-hacc/

 

Save HACC Arts: Morgan Crumlich

Students and professors at Harrisburg Area Community College recently discovered that the college will be cutting valuable arts programs from the curriculum. Strategically, as enrollment for the next semester opened, programs including ceramics, screen-printing, printmaking, and glass quietly disappeared from the catalog.
 
In hindsight, one thing seems truly telling: a couple years ago, HACC ceased advertising for their arts programs.
 
Community colleges, like HACC, were erected with great purpose: to give access and opportunity to all. Underprivileged students and students of color who otherwise cannot afford to pursue higher education at a four year institution, students unsure of their path seeking opportunities to be curious and creative, and adult students with tricky schedules and families are a large makeup of HACC’s student body.
 
While it is true and necessary that HACC offers quality trade and workforce driven programs, numerous courses and programs that transfer to four year colleges, it is unacceptable for the institution to strip such a diverse arts program that serves those demographics. By doing so, HACC perpetuates the struggle of access and agency historically denied to underprivileged people.
 
Frankly, this is exhausting and sad. And I am not in the business of explaining privilege and the value of the arts to the largest community college in Pennsylvania.
 

I do, however, always believe in the power of people’s stories.

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Above is an image of Morgan, who my close friends and I lovingly deemed the “Friend-tern” in the summer of 2016. (Friend-tern [noun]: an intern who wins your heart and becomes a fast friend.)
 
Two years ago, after finishing photography and glass at HACC, Morgan was accepted to Tyler School of Art at Temple and has since been working exclusively with glass. She also plans on pursuing her MFA and eventually returning to the Harrisburg area to pursue a career as a maker and teacher of glass.
 
Morgan was devastated by the news.
 
“That one small decision to step into [the glass] studio [at HACC] entirely changed the course of my life.
 
Glass is a medium that extends far past its materiality and process. I am constantly learning from the material everyday. It has taught me invaluable lessons about community and perseverance. It consistently challenges me to be a better maker and person. It was in that studio that I found my home.”
 
I took this image at a happier time: Morgan feeling the warmth of the new sunrise on her face. The reflection in the water like glass. Her first road trip with me. Her first time this far away from home. Her first time on a sailboat. Portland, ME. July, 2016.
 
Please consider signing the student petition below and share your personal stories about HACC Arts with the hashtag #saveHACCarts.

Sprocket Mural Works: Harrisburg Mural Fest

(Story originally published in The BURG)

“It was an event like central PA had never seen before.

Over the course of 10 days last month, more than a dozen murals were created as part of the Harrisburg Mural Fest. Sprocket Mural Works asked local, national and even international artists to paint murals in Shipoke, downtown and Midtown Harrisburg, supplementing the projects with several mural-themed social and educational events. It all ended with a tremendous block party on State Street.

In this photo feature, photographer Dani Fresh shows us some of these stunning works of art, captured during and soon after their creation.” (Lawrance Binda)

There are probably thousands of images of these newly painted, beautiful walls. And hot dog, they are wildly beautiful walls and wonderful perspectives. But the most striking thing about the Harrisburg Mural Fest was the profound willingness of artists to invite an entire city to be a part of the process of creating art. It is brave, vulnerable, and sweet—and it is one thing to say that murals are tools for civic engagement; it is another to witness it on such a grand scale.

These images are a collection of gestures and moments that exist between working diligently, talking to and engaging with people passing by, teaching and guiding students and eager community volunteers, and eventually, the triumphant finish of a long project.

http://www.sprocketmuralworks.com/

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Gather The Spirit For Justice: Common Ground Cafe

It is one of my favorite places to volunteer.

One of the most remarkable people I have ever photographed in Harrisburg, Naed Smith, introduced me to Common Ground Café. Naed is a neighborly presence in Allison Hill—called to vocation as the manager of the Catholic Worker House on Market Street. He is a tall, burly man who always greets people with literal and proverbial open arms. And, of course, he is almost always present here…

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Specifically, at Common Ground Café, they foster a safe, loving space to build community and the people who gather there embody the qualities that are essential to serve our homeless and underserved neighbors.

This is a mash-up of organizers, volunteers, and neighbors who come together for sit-down, restaurant style breakfast every second and last Saturday of the month.

And if it is a thing on your mind or on your heart, they’re always looking for volunteers. I hope you’ll join them.

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Thank you to Jeff Sigel from Gather The Spirit and my bud, David Yancey who helped out and made it possible for me to make images in this space. You’re both real swell fellas and I appreciate you, for sure.

http://gatherthespirit.webs.com/
Email Clay Lambert at commongroundbreakfast@gmail.com to volunteer.

Full STEAM Ahead Summer Day Camp

“The best camera is the camera that’s with you.”

Recently, I saw this post in The NY Times about “What Makes a New York City Kid?” In it was a video compilation of kids in different parts of the city who “agreed to document their daily lives” on their smartphones and while I was watching it, it struck me… How sweetly honest and accurate the footage was because they had been given the power to control their own narratives.

I will say this now and forever:

Giving young people agency is important. 

Similarly, here in Harrisburg, Jump Street puts creative tools in the hands of young people in the city through programs like Full STEAM Ahead Summer Day Camp. With the help of local artists in residence, teachers and administrators, student mentors, and volunteers, young students are introduced to a diverse plume of the arts and are able to choose mediums to express themselves.

During the camp this summer, I was asked to teach photography. For a week, we talked about color and composition, history and tools, and made images with Fuji Instax. My heart grew each time I witnessed their joy with the Polaroid-like prints rolling out the tops of the cameras like magic. They made portraits, documented other classes and spaces, and self-published their work by creating zines. The students were tremendously sweet and hilarious, tough and opinionated, super sharp and very determined… but most importantly, through all of the classes, they left with the power to create their own stories.

THANK YOU to Jump Street for having me, the student mentors and my intern, Morgan, for helping me, and the students for obliging me. I hope we can do it all again in 2017!

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Full STEAM Ahead Summer Day Camp from Dani Fresh on Vimeo.

 

 

Any Excuse Will Serve A Tyrant: The Mayor of Harrisburg & The Censorship of PennLive

A close friend of mine once said, “Who ever told us it was easy to be good?” 

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On Monday evening, PennLive’s Barbara Miller released an article titled, “Harrisburg mayor cuts off PennLive reporters.

Whelp, PennLive, you have my attention.

It begins, “Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse has ordered that his spokeswoman no longer talk with PennLive regarding city issues following two stories that looked at the mayor’s private business and real estate holdings.

PennLive also will no longer be invited to weekly city briefings, the spokeswoman said.

When asked what prompted the decision, city spokeswoman Joyce Davis issued this statement from Papenfuse: “The Mayor’s official statement is that he believes PennLive traffics in hate speech and cynicism. He has instructed me not to respond to inquiries from PennLive reporters.”

While I agree that PennLive’s comment section is a cesspool of bigotry and hate, believe many of their articles leave much to be desired as someone who loves this city with all her heart, and that, as an ad-based, corporate media, PennLive has incredulous shortcomings; the answers to addressing those issues do not exist in the Mayor of Harrisburg reducing transparency in his administration or “cutting off” PennLive.

Larry Binda put it best in an article he recently wrote for TheBurg in response to the mayor’s ban, “…like it or not, PennLive remains this area’s predominant source of news. Despite multiple rounds of layoffs in recent years, PennLive is still unmatched in terms of editorial budget and staff resources. No other media can compete. Not the TV news, not volunteer watchdogs and not TheBurg, which, for all of our progress, has a microscopic budget and staff compared to PennLive. You can argue with how PennLive deploys its resources, but it does dedicate a reporter to Harrisburg, the last jurisdiction it deems important enough to do so.”

Very plainly stated, censorship is not the answer.

But then again, I think he already knows that. Eric Papenfuse owns a bookstore. 

The larger issue, as I see it, is that Papenfuse acted out against PennLive after they released two very relevant articles ultimately questioning his character, his business, his real estate holdings, and whether or not his actions as mayor have been a conflict of interest as a business owner.

If you haven’t read the articles, you can read them here:
Overtime violations at Midtown Scholar warehouse illustrate national problem,” by Paul Barker
and
Harrisburg mayor owns 8 properties near bar he aims to close,” by Eric Veronikis

In these instances, PennLive did a damn good job exercising freedom of the press, freedom of information, access, advocating for their readers and for the public. Demanding transparency and morality from public officials is one of the most valuable things that the press can accomplish. It is those checks and balances that we so desperately need.

Moving Forward

I know this isn’t a revolutionary resolution, but I strongly believe that one of the best things we can do to better ourselves and to serve others is to admit when we’re wrong–from admitting that you’re the jerk who ate the last of the ice cream to universities admitting that sexual assaults occurred on their campuses to elected officials keeping themselves in check and every thing in between.

Instead of wanting to flip the closest table in a fit of outrage, maybe, hopefully, the better answer to is ask our mayor to do better… ask him to admit that he dropped the ball. We need him to do a better job right now representing Harrisburg.

To The Mayor:

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Please, admit when you are wrong. I beg you to not be that thing you so vehemently despised during and after Reed’s tenure: a city official abusing power and circumventing transparency.

(Photos by Dani Fresh//Courtesy of Roxbury News)

Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble: The Graduate

THE GRADUATE will be presented at FEDLIVE (2nd level of Federal Taphouse, 234 N. 2nd Street, Harrisburg, Pa 17101) by Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble at 7pm (doors at 6pm) on Sunday, April 17, 24, & May 1. Tickets are $15 and will be available at The Federal Taphouse and at the door. ALL SEATING GENERAL ADMISSION. So get there early!

So, here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson, ya damn floozie…

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COLORMAKE & THE GIVING KEYS

There are so many people in Harrisburg who inspire with their love, sacrifice, and intention. I witness all the beautiful things they do and as a result, I feel drawn to them and driven to work harder, create well, and love more. The Giving Keys collaboration with Koji is an opportunity to recognize a few of those people and I am so excited and honored to make images to celebrate them. This place has so much heart. And I love to give a little relief and recognition to tireless efforts. It’s important to lift each other up. The following is text by Jen Merrill inciting our little Harrisburg chapter of the Giving Keys story… We encourage you to do the same: buy the keys with purpose, open your heart and allow others to inspire you, pass the message on.

Love,
Fresh

COLORMAKE & THE GIVING KEYS
http://colormake.tumblr.com/post/121304277454/colormake-x-the-giving-keys
Text by Jen Merrill 

Most of us have a ring full of keys that jingle along as we carry on through our days, but do we think about the power that simple ring of keys might hold?

One might unlock the door to your home, offering a safe refuge from the world outside. One might unlock the door to your place of work, where you hopefully feel inspired by what you do as you toil away and, at the very least, earn a livable wage to help feed, house and clothe yourself and your family. One might be for your car – or bike lock! – allowing you to get here, there, and just about everywhere with ease.

And with these keys comes a sense of vulnerability, as they act as a map of our lifestyle, a way to access the parts of our lives that mean most to us.

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The Giving Keys is an organization that understands the power of these tiny pieces of shaped metal.  On the surface, they make jewelry, but their purpose is so much more than that. The Giving Keys employs individuals looking to transition out of homelessness to create jewelry out of repurposed keys, each engraved with a unique message like “hope,” “strength,” or “courage.” When the wearer of the keys meets someone else in need of the message, they’re encouraged to pay it forward and pass the key on to its next owner, spreading its message out into the world.

The Giving Keys recently approached Koji about creating his own key, and after much thought, he decided to use the word “Peacemaker,” which shares its name with a track on his recent split with La Dispute, Never Come Undone. The song was written for his friend and fellow activist, Nate Henn, who was killed by an al-Shabaab suicide bombing in Kampala, Uganda during the 2010 final World Cup match. Nate, as part of the organization Invisible Children, raised money and advocated for children forced into warfare.

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“I think it’s important to show the link between art and activism as forms of expression that give people agency. Our mission with Colormake is to get people to engage with ideas, their sense of self, and sense of community,” says Koji.

Colormake is giving keys to three very deserving Harrisburg individuals: Ashlee Dugan, Loretta Barbee-Dare, and Stephen Michael Haas. These leaders are much like keys themselves, unlocking the goodness, the potential, the beauty of their communities and allowing us into the places that we need most. We admire how they use their voices, passion and leadership to continually uplift those around them.

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Ashlee Dugan and Loretta Barbee-Dare have had a rich history together of activism and community work in the Harrisburg, Pa. area, ranging from their time with Food Not Bombs, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and Pennsylvanians Against the Death Penalty. In the current moment, Ashlee works as the interim market manager at the Broad Street Market and is the co-founder of The Greenhouse, a Harrisburg-based community organization that recovers healthy food that would have otherwise been wasted and preserves it in healthy and creative ways before distributing it to the community. Loretta has worked hard to receive her real estate license and continues to work to get members of the community into homes they can love and afford. Both of these women work tirelessly to give new opportunity and resources to those that need it most.

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Stephen Michael Haas is a multi media artist based in Harrisburg, Pa., known for his colorful, multi-dimensional work that’s filled with honest, positive messages that encourage self-discovery and display the creative process in its sincerest form. When looking at a piece of Stephen’s work, one feels immersed in the artist’s brain as his off-kilter characters and sentiments jump off the page – or wall, or screen, or installation – and into the viewer’s heart. Stephen recently created a zine entitled “You Can Try, But You Can Also Not Try,” and he’s worked alongside Wayne White. His dedication to his craft is admirable to all as he inspires those around him to do what they love, take risks, and not be afraid to grow and evolve their work in the public eye.

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We’re so pleased to honor these individuals by offering them each a Giving Key and encouraging them to pay it forward when the right time comes, helping to unlock their own power as well as the power of the communities they know and love.