In 2009, I was part of The Laundromat Project’s Create Change Public Artist Residency Program, which invites local artists of color to create public art projects in and/or around their neighborhood coin-ops or laundromats. This program also offered me professional development; mentorship and support along the life cycle of the project from a wide range of artists and art professionals; and networking opportunities among other resources. The public art installation, The Photo Booth Without Bordersinvited Jackson Heights newcomers, long-term residents and visitors to share their personal journeys through a portable photo booth-meets-confessional. This booth was mostly built from repurposed materials and stopped at different laundromats in the most diverse neighborhood in the United States.
I recorded participants’ personal stories and collected photographs of them interacting inside the booth, which featured backdrops of a world map and a calling card mosaic, among other elements. Participants received an instant Polaroid photograph in exchange for sharing their story. My previous experiences with local communities set the stage for me to design The Photo Booth Without Borders as a space for people of all ages and backgrounds to share personal stories, explore their sense of community and incite ideas for change through storytelling.