The Heritage program of the Pew Center for the Arts & Heritage has announced the recipients of the 2012 Awards for Interpretive Inquiry and Investigation—or Triple I Awards. The grants aid individual practitioners in the investigation of imaginative projects in public history by supporting experimental interpretive research and projects that bring history alive. Triple I awardees connect the present to the past in engaging, imaginative, and meaningful ways and respond to audience and community interests or needs while demonstrating a complex understanding and presentation of history.
Triple I Award recipients are selected by Heritage program senior staff with the assistance of an outside reviewer. This year’s recipients are:
Louis Massiah—A Freedperson’s History of Community Organizing
As part of a digital animation project, Massiah will research strategies and approaches to community organizing work in the United States during the period of Reconstruction. Massiah is interested in the idea of the “cultural worker,” men and women who have engaged in the teaching and production of art as a tool to help strengthen communities. He says that he has “…come to understand that the tradition of the ‘cultural worker’ is very much based in an African-American tradition of community organizing.” Massiah will work with writer and historian Thulani Davis to investigate this history and uncover archival images from repositories in the South, which will be digitally animated. The project will allow Massiah, a Pew Fellow in the Arts, to build and develop his animation skills. Massiah is the founding director of Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia, as well as an independent documentary film maker whose work often explores historical and political subjects.
Maria Möller: Hexamer Redux
Maria Möller will work with community groups in East Kensington to investigate how interaction with historical documents can encourage community dialogue and change. Specifically, she will use the Hexamer General Surveys, which were created to document fire insurance risk at Philadelphia factories in the 19th century. Möller and her community collaborators will “re-survey” existing buildings with a new interpretation of risk for the 21st century. These new surveys will form the core for one or more installations, intended to spark discussion, interrogate value, and draw attention to the hazards and possibilities of these industrial buildings with relationship to the surrounding community. Möller’s other partners in the project include graphic designer and artist Charlie Levin, urban planner Ben Cromie, and an advisory group of East Kensington residents. Möller is a performing artist and oral historian interested in how history and art can be best used to create unexpected pathways toward perspective on our present-day lives.