SPARTANBURG PORTRAIT PROJECT

The Spartanburg Portrait Project is a comprehensive and dynamic portrait of Spartanburg - of the individuals and stories which make up this culturally diverse community. The Spartanburg Portrait Project is intended to identify and celebrate the connected threads which weave this city together, highlighting formerly unseen connections, amplifying the visibility of overlooked communities, and bringing people together to recognize our differences and similarities.

LYDIA SEE

Dynamic, experienced art practitioner and arts administrator with an active studio practice and over thirteen years increasing responsibility in art education and administration. Proven skills in written and verbal communication, curatorial projects, educational outreach, and theoretical bridge-building. Recognized success in public arts programming, all-ages arts education, promoting strategic growth and action, and connecting artists to varied resources. Passionate about facilitating inclusive access to art in any form, implementing community-engaged art initiatives, fostering creative place-making and problem solving, and building unexpected collaborative partnerships.


SELECTED RECENT PORTRAITS - editorial, documentary, lifestyle

 

SELECTED Professional Experience

 

HUB-BUB and the Spartanburg County Public Libraries
Artist in the Community Resident | 2016 – 2017

Pilot Residency in partnership with local arts organization and the public library to build a more creatively engaged greater community through free, accessible, creative public programming.

+ created public studio/makerspace in downtown public library headquarters
+ designed/built portable loom to travel across the county to teach basic weaving and textile history to make contemporary connections to Spartanburg's textile history
+ designed and taught series of all-ages multidisciplinary creative workshops, including: Markmaking, Embroidery, Weaving, Photography, Land Art, Abstract Expressionism, Printmaking, and Collage at ten library branches across the county
+ engaged diverse communities: urban neighborhoods and smaller rural communities
+ participated in myriad free, community-based creative events and programming
+ collaborated with local artists on socially-engaged programming, and public art events and works
+ sustained active personal studio practice including several new bodies of work in local and regional exhibitions


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Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Asheville, NC
Development + Outreach | 2015 – 2016

Honored the history of a renowned experimental educational community while extending its legacy: used social media and dynamic content; inspired and managed interns and volunteers; facilitated creative methods of expansion of membership; and deepened personal commitment to and interest in the collection through development, research, and outreach.

+ conducted educational outreach, community collaboration, contemporary programming
+ was responsible for digital engagement, website design/maintenance, and social media management; increased digital engagement by > 300% in first three months
+ managed database and membership
+ managed daily operations, scheduling, communications, logistics for full-time, part-time staff and volunteers and interns.
+ worked with Board of Directors on strategic planning, fundraising, membership initiatives
+ produced INTERLUDE and other events, worked with vendors, secured sponsorships, and applied for a range of city permits (street closure, public alcohol sale, etc.)
+ wrote grants and attended grant-writing workshops, as well as other professional development opportunities


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Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Boston, MA
Gallery Manager | 2013 – 2014

MassArt's Student Galleries offer more than 3,000 square feet of space which can accommodate an average of 60+ exhibitions per year. The Student Gallery Manager is responsible for all aspects of curatorial + logistic operations:

+ juried and curated exhibition proposals
+ scheduled and programmed each installation, exhibition, deinstallation
+ maintained a high standard of quality, utilizing best practices by educating and assisting exhibit curators and artists
+ worked individually and as part of a team with students, staff, and faculty
+ inventoried, budgeted for, and purchased supplies, tools, and hardware
+ acted as preparator, patched and painted walls and pedestals
+ implemented creative problem solving and troubleshooting for curatorial/installation obstacles


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Center for Art and Community Partnerships, Boston, MA
Photographer | Community Leadership Team | 2013

MassArt’s Center for Art and Community Partnerships (CACP) cultivates innovative, sustainable relationships with the broader community to explore and expand the role of art and design in public life.

+ participated in Community-Based Leadership Training
+ interacted with the arts community and civic bodies as a representative of and an advocate for CACP and MassArt
+ photographed and documented events and projects


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Theater in the Open, Newburyport, MA
Instructor, Summer Arts Workshop | 2011 – 2014
Archivist | 2013
Outreach and Publicity Coordinator | 2011

+ developed, designed, and implemented a new approach to print collateral, PR, and digital media strategy
+ established systems to gain intellectual control over and rehouse a substantive organizational archive spanning over 35 years including photographs, broadsides / posters, prints, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera.
+ designed multidisciplinary arts curricula for ages 6-18
+ prepared budgets and ordered supplies for lesson plans
+ managed and trained staff while maintaining rigorous teaching schedule


SELECTED Relevant Projects + Experience
 

Northside Artlet Initiative 


+ assisted artist/designer Eli Blasko in production during various stages of the Northside Artlet Initiative
+ designed and implemented interactive all-ages projects to supplement Artlet programming
+ photographed portraits of community members, project participants and their families, and documented project


the Cabbage School Pilot Workshop, July-August 2017, documentation ongoing, 
"the Living Library" workshop host, and Resident Artist

 

The Cabbage School is a pilot residency and workshop located at the Commons, in Little Sandy Mush, NC. In its very early stages of development, the Cabbage School is a collaborative approach to inquiry, discussion, and practice. The Cabbage School brings together craftspeople, artists, performers, alternative farmers and homesteaders, agroecologists, design/build architects, writers, philosophers, historians and others, with the purpose of creating both a functional model for alternative and holistic education and a resilient and dynamic community.


SELECTED Relevant Photographic Series

Colpo d’Aria

My sister's family relocated to rural Southern Italy in 2013, immediately immersing themselves in the local culture. I made these photographs with a Crown Graphic 4"x5" Press Camera while staying in Italy for a month during the summer of 2014, a little over a year after their move. 

 

Sunset on Route 1

These photographs were made over several commutes along Route 1 between Newburyport, MA (my home town) and Boston, MA on 120mm film with a Hasselblad 500C. I grew up traveling this road, and watching it change. The identity of this area has been transformed substantially over the last few years, and most of these signs and structures are no longer standing. 


SELECTED Civic Engagement / Professional Development


C4 Hatch Training Intensive | Fuse Arts Center, Atlanta, GA | 2017

+ developed skills in cultural organizing, understanding and establishing identity, identifying key community stakeholders, and working with community in ways that are sustainable for both artists and community members
+ learned important career development skills necessary to do social and civic practice work, including working with city planners, applying for RFPs/RFQs, negotiation and budgeting

Volunteer Instructor | Fierce Flix Film Camp for Girls and Gender Minorities, Asheville, NC | 2016
+ taught Film Composition
+ facilitated body awareness, improv theater, and group-building assembly workshops

Free Art | Newburyport, MA / Portland, ME | 2010 - 2011
+ participated in annual two-city partnership committed to circulating free, accessible art during the holiday season
+ created, collected, and distributed hundreds of works of free art

Best Practices + Responsibilities for a Nonprofit Board | Enterprise Center, Salem State University, Salem, MA | 2010
+ participated in workshop led by the ESC of New England, to enhance the impact of nonprofit organizations
+ focused on capacity building, leadership support, tactical approaches for Nonprofit boards and Executive Directors

Board Member | Theater in the Open, Newburyport, MA | 2010 – 2011
+ authored and implemented Strategic Growth Action Plan leading to free and wider-reaching programming
+ worked in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Recreation
+ built & maintained relationships with community members, stakeholders, and donors

Volunteer for Katrina + Rita Hurricane relief | Hearts With Hands | Ocean Springs, Mississippi | 2005
+ traveled to the Gulf Coast and provided disaster relief including organization and dispensation of food and household supplies addressing critical needs
+ performed risk assessment, management, and reduction


SKILLS:

MS Office Suite; Adobe CS6; Mac + PC; Editorial, Lifestyle, Commercial, + Fine Art Photography; Professional Printing/Scanning; Branding + Identity; Event Planning; Grant Writing; Fundraising; Strategic Planning; Editing + Writing; Social Media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.); Web maintenance + design (basic html, Wordpress, Squarespace); Share Drive Applications (GoogleDrive, Dropbox, iCloud); Public Relations; Curatorial Projects; Archival Research; Set Design; Mural Painting; Comfortable Using a Range of Hand Tools, Basic Power Tools + Woodworking Equipment.


SELECTED RECENT EXHIBITIONS

Chapman Cultural Center - ArtsXcelerator 2018
Application Questions

The Spartanburg Portrait Project is a comprehensive and dynamic portrait of Spartanburg - of the individuals and stories which make up this culturally diverse community. The Spartanburg Portrait Project is intended to identify and celebrate the connected threads which weave this city together, highlighting formerly unseen connections, amplifying the visibility of overlooked communities, and bringing people together to recognize our differences and similarities.

What goal(s) do you hope to achieve through this project, and how does that goal relate to the Community Indicators area(s) you selected?
(What do you hope to see happen in Spartanburg as a result of your project?)

I came to Spartanburg as a HUB-BUB AIR in 2016 and spent much of my initial time here meeting exceptional people with big ideas about Spartanburg. I was consistently moved by the passion and commitment each of these individuals demonstrated in their devotion to helping Spartanburg be the best city it can be. What I began to notice throughout this process was that many of the folks I met didn't know EACH OTHER. Spartanburg has so much going on, and yet, the potential of our interconnectedness is unrecognized.

The Spartanburg Portrait Project seeks to unify many of these diverging stories, groups, neighborhoods, and people. Focusing on cultural vitality by offering opportunities for cultural participation and passive arts engagement, examining civic health by encouraging low-stakes volunteerism, building in educational opportunities including workshops and demonstrations, in addition to each portrait subject and photo session allowing for educational interactions as simple as having one's portrait taken. We can pay homage to our natural environment by using a widely-appreciated site like the Cottonwood Trail (where I run weekly) as a site for a pop-up photobooth. We can widen the conversation about our social environment by meeting people where they are in their own neighborhoods. I currently live in Beaumont Village and could host a pop-up photobooth in my own front yard – thereby encouraging communication between neighbors and getting to know each other on our own turf, rather than asking folks who may not ordinarily participate in an arts event downtown to go out of their way to participate.

What work will you produce? How will you go about creating it? What experience do you have that has prepared you for this project? How long will people be able to experience it?
(Include your medium(s), content, and ideas for presentation.)

The Spartanburg Portrait Project will involve the production of hundreds of individual portraits featuring real Spartanburg citizens in their own environment – a favorite place, their neighborhood, a public event, or their place of work. This city is special because of its citizens, and each individual has a story. Each portrait will contribute to sharing the larger story that is Spartanburg.

The portraits in tangible form will be on view in an accessible exhibition (location TBA), after which each portrait subject will be given their picture for free. The images will also be on view in digital form online, available in perpetuity, and if interest is garnered, in book form. Eventually, a master copy of the portraits will be held in the city archives or at the Spartanburg Library. It is also a goal for this project to be printed and on display in some passive and unexpected places: in the windows of public places like the library, the bus depot, downtown business, etc. or in other non-traditional locations such as printing on outdoor vinyl displayed on construction fencing.

My varied experience in cultural organizations and project management prepares me for the administrative and civic aspects of this project. In my work with non-profits and with projects focused on sharing the stories of underrepresented members of our greater community, I gained experience with prioritizing stakeholders as the heart of the project, rather than speaking for those represented. I have worked with folks from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, ages, and abilities as an educator, public artist, and social justice advocate. As an artist, I have worked as a photojournalist, documentarian, editorial photographer, and as a portrait photographer for hire. My photographic career spans two decades and I have been published in USA Today, SPIN, The New York Times, Signal to Noise, SIFT, and numerous other regional and national print publications, blogs and online publications. I volunteered for the Northside Artlet Initiative as documentarian, making a series of portraits and other images highlighting the process of the Artlets and those involved. In addition, I spent a year as Artist in Residence in Spartanburg, a partnership with HUB-BUB and the Spartanburg Public Library System, during which I became deeply involved with researching Spartanburg's storied history, building personal and public relationships and partnerships, and learning to appreciate what makes Spartanburg special.

Have you spoken with individuals, organizations, or businesses who have expressed interest in helping you realize your project? If so, who do you expect will be part of your "team" and how would they be able to help with this project?
(If your project is selected, we will introduce you to leaders in the Community Indicators area(s) and help with publicity and in any other way we can, but we also want to know if you have existing support.)

The “team” for the Spartanburg Portrait Project would involve myself, a few studio assistants (preferably other working artists as paid assistants and art students for internship credit), volunteers for each pop-up photobooth event, printing and framing support, and exhibition/digital exhibition support.

I have not yet reached out to any entities regarding this project, however, I have many strong relationships in the community and am very confident in my ability to garner additional support in kind or in sweat equity. I would be very interested in partnering with community leaders and hearing their thoughts on where, when, and how the images were made and displayed, and also to make their portraits in places which help tell the story of their Indicator area. I would also be interested in partnering with a printing facility or studio, framing shop, glass business, etc. to defray the costs of production, but have yet to make those partnerships. I would also love to partner with the Hub City Writer's Project on the publication of a book.

Some people with whom I have relationships with already that I am interested in photographing are: Chris Jennings, Christopher George (I would probably photograph him in the pocket park next to the Coffee Bar, as that is where he records many of his podcasts), Megan Smith, Phoenix Miller, Tony Thomas, and the Northside Voyagers, Mat Duncan, Elizabeth Goddard, Jennifer Evins, Janice Carpenter, Melissa Early, Erica Brown, Betsy Teter, Brad Steinecke, Todd Stephens, and other prominent citizens. It is important to me that both well-known members of our community are photographed and displayed in picture form alongside Spartanburg citizens whom I have yet to meet.

Where, and when will you be presenting your project? Is this a one-time event or will it be ongoing for a week, a month, or longer? Does the project effect one place or neighborhood more than others, is it physical or digital or are there componants of both?
(When do you expect the final, finished project to be completed? Where will it be presented?)

This project will be completed over several weeks including a few public "photo booth" days at locations such as the Hub City Farmer's Market, the Cottonwood Trail, and the Library.

The photography will be a mix of digital and analog, including a web component to be available in perpetuity, a physical exhibition of the portraits (location TBD), and a book.

The scope of the project can be as broad and wide-reaching as Spartanburg's support and imagination. An initial goal of 150 portraits from 2-3 pop-up photobooths and selected portrait appointments (see list of community members identified in “team” section) will likely be met easily, with additional pop-up photobooth events to be determined based on relationships forged through the early stages of the project.

Do you expect there will be immediate, short-term, and/or long-term effects of the project? Who is your targeted audience and how do you plan to reach them?
(We will help to publicize your project, but would like to know more about your intended/expected audience.)

I expect immediate, short-, and long-term effects from this project. The existence of the project itself will encourage a dialog about those who are part of the extended Spartanburg community and how we all weave together. The creation of images will allow individuals who may not have crossed paths before to be a part of a project together, just by having their photograph made and their story shared. The pop-up photo booth events will bring people together in locations which encourage cross-pollination, and the exhibition of the portraits will include all types of folks from the Spartanburg community on the same wall, on the same website, crossing boundaries of socio-economic level, neighborhoods, gender, age, and ability.

What types of results or responses to your work will help you determine whether it was successful or not? How will you gather or record those outcomes so that they can be shared and evaluated by others?
(If your project is selected, we will help you in evaluating and communicating the results, but we need to know what success looks like for your specific project.)

This project will be successful if members of the greater Spartanburg community are able to share a tiny bit of themselves through having their portrait made, thereby contributing a thread to the visual tapestry of the story of Spartanburg, and that these portraits may be seen and act as a mirror for the city. The outcomes and successes can be measured in the demographics of participants, the volume of photographs made, the attendance at educational events, photobooth pop-ups, and exhibitions. I have a particular interest in amplifying the power of existing organizations and individuals and shining a light on the care and commitment they have for the community, especially those whose work and passion is often unseen