This exhibition celebrates the vibrant past of Hazelwood, Pittsburgh while offering current residents a communal place to grieve their loved ones, discuss current issues, and offer support.
Hazelwood is a neighboring town in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - it has a reputation for gang violence and poverty. CMU's design class of 2017 created an exhibition to memorialize young lives that were lost in this divested neighborhood. This exhibition is a result of months of research, collection of artifacts and history, and interviews with current Hazelwood residents.
Exhibition Design: Hazelwood Memorial
In addition to collaborating with my classmates to conceptualize the exhibit experience, I designed the exhibit's centerpiece, Systems We See, with industrial designer Hannah Salinas.
Systems We See is an acrylic table with 3 layers of text: interview quotes from Hazelwood residents, newspaper headlines, and the preamble to the constitution.
"As Americans, we are promised the rights of freedom, justice and equality. But how are these rights fulfilled if communities struggle to put food on the table and keep their children safe? Battling systemic issues like poverty, racial inequality, and urban violence starts with open eyes and honest conversation. Take a moment to read newspaper stories and community quotes about Hazelwood's challenges alongside the promises from our Founding Fathers. Where do these promises fall short?"
United We Will is a wall of cards on which people write their strengths and thoughts, or offer help to fellow community members.
"Hazelwood is a beautiful mosaic made up of unique individuals who each play a role in the community. Whether they are artists, activists, role models, or supporters, these people all share the desire to contribute to something bigger than themselves. Through the years, Hazelwood's strength has rested on its ability to come together in difficult times. As you reflect on your own personal identity, consider your role in this community and how your contribution can impact our society and our world"
Spaces We Shared is a space for people to learn and/or reminisce about Hazelwood's history, including the steel mill and Gladstone School
"A community cannot grow without spaces to call its own. Although Hazelwood used to be a thriving neighborhood, it lost countless resources like schools, grocery stores, playgrounds, and jobs when the steel mil closed. Neighborhood treasures like ice cream shops and community swimming pools are now fading memories. By looking at artifacts from Hazelwood's past, we reflect on what this neighborhood used to be. We recognize the loss and change that has shaped this community and acknowledge the places where we can still continue to gather and grow."
Aspirations We Hold is a space for people to read inspiring success stories from Hazelwood and write down their own personal goals to post on the above wall.
"The people of Hazelwood are living and breathing stories of inspiration and resilience. From olympic medalists to entrepreneurs, the community is filled with champions of hard work and talent. However, amongst these bright stars are also quieter voices whose stories of compassion and determination remain untold. Here we recognize the different kinds of strength that live in Hazelwood. As you read inspiring stories of individual's success, consider your own future ambitions."
Together We Remember is a space for people to mourn the death of individuals through artifacts, photos, and video.
"There are times when it is difficult to remember the loss of our loved ones because the pain is too great. However, when we can voice our grief to others suddenly we are no longer alone. The countless individual stories of young lives cut short in HAzelwood build a larger narrative of urban street violence. Coming together over this shared experience creates a system for support and healing. As you reflect on your own loss, please consider leaving keepsakes or sharing memories of loved ones in our community display."
The objective of our research was to understand the community’s people and places to connect with the current population in a genuine way. We held sessions with the members of Hazelwood’s community; We gained an understanding of Hazelwood through activities we designed to facilitate conversation and discussion about the growing issues of Hazelwood, the loss of loved ones and culture, and possible solutions.
Through conversation, we learned about the current state of Hazelwood's economy, youth, community, and infrastructure.
As an effort to reinstate a sense of community and optimism in the neighborhood, the exhibit became a space for people in Hazelwood to reflect on the past, acknowledge the loss, grieve together, and support each other through a new hope for the neighborhood's future.