ArtCentral: “Me, The Other” Film Festival kick-off movie
By Elizabeth Freer
Matthews Opera House, ArtCentral Manager
The “What would it be like to live in a town where every house looked exactly the same (color, shape, landscaping)?” What if there was only one flavor of ice cream (mocha!), and no rainbow sprinkles? Without variety, this world would be a very boring and unhappy place!
Variety differentiates one from another; the differences define us. We internalize differences – positive and negative – and our individual experiences collect to form a certain set of assumptions and pre-judgments. We each use these assumptions and pre-judgments as we evaluate the world around us; they guide us with magnetic force.
But, ‘otherness’ is never one thing. It is not just skin color, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, place of birth, physical appearance, economic status, life experience, ability, or disability. The feeling of being ‘other’ is a common human experience that we all share.
Some ‘otherness’ is external; some of it is internal. For many, we do not know of the internal ‘otherness’ until she or he is willing to share this vulnerable place of the soul. The experience of otherness often comes in unexpected places.
These unique characteristics and experiences are what make us each an extraordinary, beautiful, individuals. These differences are the qualities to be celebrated!
We gathered twelve individuals from the Spearfish community to be a part of a temporary photography exhibit currently installed at The Matthews Art Gallery. A collection of portraits, taken by Alison Murphy (BHSU photography student), accompanied by autobiographical statements, tells a story of our community where we all share the human experience of being an ‘other.’
By seeking to understand the individual through her and his story, experiences, struggles, and accomplishments, we find parts of ourselves in each of them. We create a platform for conversation about the things that connect us, rather than keep us apart. Through this project, we aim to increase the awareness and appreciation of the differences in our world and reduce the apprehension that surrounds ‘otherness’ in our community.
The photography exhibit is inspired by the first film in our (FREE!) Film Festival: Season Two. ‘Me, The Other’ is screening on September 18th at 6:30 pm at The Matthews. It is a documentary film directed by Shidan Majidi and tells the stories of a diverse cast and through their stories, we find that our ‘otherness’ unites more than it divides.
Lead by Elizabeth Freer, ArtCentral manager at The Matthews, the project brings together a committee of advocates, artists, and residents working together over two years to create a new model for arts planning and outreach, focusing on the themes of belonging, inclusion, equity, rural connectedness, cultivating creativity, imagining space, and the arts as a community development catalyst.
“I am excited for this opportunity to work in Spearfish with The Matthews on this innovative and important project to advance the arts in our community,” stated Freer. “I encourage local residents who are interested in participating in this process to apply to be a part of the committee.”