Defining 'Community' in Venice Through Photographs


On April 13, the participants in Venice Arts' Community Story Lab ventured out together for their first group shoot in the Venice community. Prompted by Lead Artist Sara Terry to reflect on the term "community" while choosing their shots, the participants returned with a wide range of footage. From this footage, the participants identified repeating themes that could help shape how they envision "community," and how they shape their yearlong exploration of documenting those forms of community. For an insider's perspective, this month's blog post is written by participant David Rossi, a talented photographer and captivating writer.


The Community Story Lab's First Group Photo Shoot
by David Tinnius Rossi

What defines community? How do outsiders define my community? How do I define my community? With these questions in mind, the Community Story Lab participants went on their first outdoor group shoot. By including both rags and riches, the images provided a comprehensive view of what Venice has become today, with its funky, bohemian inhabitants contrasted with growing gentrification. Each photographer's point of view couldn't have been more different: some focused on people, and others on details of the physical landscape such as mailboxes and fences.

Catherine Allison, 2014, Courtesy of of Venice Arts
Sharon Fatah, 2014, Courtesy of Venice Arts

The images were reviewed on May 1 under the guidance of Sara Terry, Lead Artist of the Community Story Lab project. Precious insights, both technical as well as narrative, were disclosed during the meeting. This made the selection process easier by concentrating on the strengths of each photographer. As the project continues, the whole group is becoming aware of how the visual voice of each member is being shaped and defined. The results are no less than amazing.

Penina Finger, 2014, Courtesy of Venice Arts
Leticia Antonio, 2014, Courtesy of Venice Arts
Sharon Fatah, 2014, Courtesy of Venice Arts


The next photo shoot focuses on the theme of "Family." Delving deeper into this aspect of community, the group will respond to the following questions: What is the role of family in shaping a community? Do families make a community stronger or weaker? What about the homeless -- what kind of family do they experience in a community?

What defines your community? Be part of the conversation and tell us your response here.

And make sure to follow the story here on KCET and on the Venice Arts website, as the participants develop and hone their understanding of "community."

Interested in finding out more about the Community Story Lab or participating in the monthly Drop In Story Lab component of the project? Email meg@venicearts.org.

The Community Story Lab project is supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.

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