Kensington Blues focuses on the men, women and children who struggle to survive along Kensington Ave in North Philadelphia. Shadowed by the El train, the Ave runs approx 3 miles into North East Philly. Under the El, drug use and prostitution are widespread. Many residents are caught in a loosing battle with their drug addiction and live day-to-day to supply their habit. This drama unfolds every day on the Ave as if it were a stage, and the rush of El train above its curtain. I began taking photographs in Kensington during the winter of 2008. Borrowing from both fine-art and documentary practices, my work explores the state of mind of those who struggle to survive the neighborhood and themselves. Using photography, audio recordings and journal entries, I collaborate with those I photograph to facilitate the telling of their stories. By utilizing first person story telling, my goal is to tap into the hearts and minds of my subjects and viewers equally, drawing forth the human condition and encouraging compassion for one another despite the vast differences between us.
I began photographing the residents who live along Kensington Avenue during the winter of 2008. Living in a neighborhood overcome by drug use and prostitution, the people I photograph maintain a feeble balance with survival. The constant threat of drug-related violence looms heavily, yet its weight has lead to a certain amount of acceptance. Dealers, addicts and prostitutes roam the streets unabashedly. Addicts selling needles, prostitutes selling sex and dealers selling Heroin and Suboxone alike. There is no denial. In it’s place is a collective acknowledgement that for better or worse those who live along the Ave are living together, united by the harsh realities they face and their quest to survive.
When I first started photographing along Kensington Ave, my focus was on prostitution. The women I was meeting and photographing told me harrowing tales of violence, addiction and how they fought to survive. I would come home at night and their stories would stick with me. I felt that it was necessary to find a way to incorporate these stories within the project so I began recording them without knowing exactly what I was going to do with them. I introduced a journal and asked people to share their thoughts. I basically became a story collector, which isn’t really any different from being a photographer as I see it.
I started kensingtonblues.com as a way to help me to organize and formulate ideas about my work. It’s been a vital part of not only sharing the work, but also creating it. It allows me to experiment with combining images with audio and incorporate first person storytelling. Kensington Blues is a work in progress and it’s final destination is still unknown. By comparing where I started with where I’m headed, I’ve been able to tracking my progress and look for new directions. My ultimate goal is to tap into the hearts and minds of my subjects and viewers equally, drawing forth the human condition and encouraging compassion for one another despite the vast differences between us.
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Offering housing, long-term healing and rehabilitation services for women affected by commercial sexual exploitation.
Friends of Visitation
Through community outreach programs, fundraising and marketing this organization provides support for the students of the Visitation School and the surrounding neighborhood.
Helping people find and obtain employment, offering free GED, ESL and computer classes as well as childcare and housing.
Inner City Missions at the Cora Women Center
Catering to the needs of families, children and youth on a local level, this organization seeks to help people experiencing drug abuse, violence, and other consequences of poverty in Kensington.
Last Stop Clubhouse
Recovery house for alcohol and drug addicts.
Philadelphia Brotherhood Rescue Mission
Helping the homeless and rebuilding lives since 1908, this organization provides food, clothing and shelter for people who wish to overcome their addictions.
Prevention Point Philadelphia
Advocating for social justice, this organization offers services and support individually to reduce the harm associated with substance abuse and prostitution.
A grass-roots organization working to improve conditions for prostitutes through providing non-judgmental support services and education about safe sex practices.
Interacting primarily with juveniles at risk, Rock Ministries provides counseling for young men and women who face a variety of pressing social issues.
St. Francis Inn Ministries
Helping the poor and homeless of Philadelphia, this organization serves meals, clothing and hospitality to people while helping to restore hope and dignity in their lives.
Women Organized Against Rape
Providing free counseling for women, men and children who have experienced sexual violence via specialized treatment services and prevention education programs. WOAR offers support and advocacy for survivors.For free counseling services please call the 24 hr rape hotline 215-985-3333
319A N 11th St 4th Floor
Philadelphia Pa 19107