Tag Archives: Building Prosperity Project

Building Prosperity Project

Two Oberlin students, Maia Brown and Hannah Linder-Finley (both class of 2010), have been working with the Oberlin Underground Railroad Society during this academic year.  Their efforts are a part of the Building Prosperity Project which hopes to raise funds for long-term rental or purchase of the 167 S Pleasant Street house.  This beautiful three story house has sat vacant on a large corner lot for six years, but from now until May it will be filled with life, community, and art.  In addition to preparing for their senior thesis shows as a part of the Senior Studio program, both Hannah and Maia have worked tirelessly to raise funds to rent the house for three months (March through May) and raise awareness about the project.

Not only has the house showcased the work of Maia, Hannah and the curation work of Oberlin student Rachel Cotterman, but it has also housed exhibitions by Oberlin community members and collaborative projects with Oberlin High School and college- age students.  The Oberlin Underground Railroad Society (OURS) hopes to use this short-term rental to build momentum to buy the house for the society and Oberlin community.  OURS plans to use the house as an art gallery, community garden and library, as well as turn the second and third floors into a bed and breakfast in order to make continual funding of the space possible.

Ongoing and Upcoming Events:

April 24, 2010 – May 2, 2010
Gathering Story–A Senior Studio Art Exhibition
Hannah Lindner-Finlay

I am interested in the meanings and memories embedded in physical objects: the stories that gather on furniture, the feeling of holding a familiar stone. Memories are constantly shaping and being shaped by the past, the present, and imaginations of the future. Community, in turn, is shaped by these shifting memories, these gathering stories. I work with connection—creating community through shared reverence for things alive.

Saturday May 1, 11am-1pm
Oberlin African American Genealogy and History Group Meeting
Discussion & Potluck: “Makin’ Do”
Makin’ Do: Taking what you have and making it into what you need.
We may be in a recession now, but it is not the first time “hard times” have challenged us.  In the domestic arena, it was the women who had to figure out how to feed their families with what was on hand or cheaply attained.  Maybe you remember what your family did to “make do” when times were tough or maybe you just remember what your mother or grandmother said they did to “made do.”  Either way, put on your apron, bring your memories and a “make do” dish and join us as we remember “how we got over.”
Contact Person: Phyllis Yarber-Hogan (
May 2, 2010 – May 8, 2010
“Walk With Me” Walking Sticks
Wayne Yarber
Using wood harvested from local trees, Wayne strips and etches images in sticks for walking and protection.  Wayne developed his creative style from his interests in graphic arts, African-American culture, and martial arts.  Each piece takes about 30 hours to create and results in a naturally stained art pieces that is both beautiful and powerful.  His signature image – a mask, is represented on each stick.  Used not only for walking, these sticks also known as a  “bo”  (a weapon for martial artist) are a treasure to display as well.  You may see Wayne’s work anywhere across the country as they are both eye-catching and functional artifacts.

Opening Reception: May 2, 2010 at 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

May 9, 2010 – May 16, 2010

Community Collective Memories Show: Community members collaborate to produce an exhibition of relics and memories of their past.
Opening Reception:  TBA
May 23, 2010 – May 28, 2010
Silent Auction Fundraiser For OURS
Exhibition of Silent Auction Items
Oberlin residents, college students, and faculty have contributed artwork and services to be auctioned in order to raise funds for OURS and the eventual purchase or long-time rental of the Pleasant Street House. Come look at the items to be auctioned off!

Hours: Regular Open Gallery Hours

Silent Auction and Dessert Potluck

All are welcome! Bring friends and family for an evening of music, art, and dessert and support a grassroots community organization.
Event Time:
Friday May 28, 6pm-8:00pm


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Gathering Story: Hannah’s Senior Exhibition

Hannah Linder-Finley’s solo show opened this Saturday, April 24 at the 167 S Pleasant Street house.  This house is part of the Building Prosperity Project- more information at the bottom of this post.  Throughout this academic year, Hannah has worked to collect stories from children in the Oberlin elementary schools and incorporate these stories into her larger body of work.  Hannah is interested in the memories that are imbedded in objects; thus, every material she uses in her pieces have a significance or prior history.  For example, one of the first pieces Hannah completed this year was a wooden chest.  The lid of this chest is a piece of wood that was carried by her parents throughout their travels.  Now this beautiful chest will carry Hannah’s belongings wherever she goes, adding onto the memories imbedded in the wood.

In addition to creating several beautiful wood pieces for her show, Hannah also illustrated a children’s story that she wrote using recycled jeans and fabric.  The story is about a young girl who finds a stone while on the beach, and begins to use the stone as something to hold onto while she recalls her memories.  Over the course of the year the girl loses the stone, and when she finds it again, she remembers all of the things that have happened to her in the past year.

This show took place off-campus in the 167 S Pleasant St house that is being rented as a part of the Building Prosperity project.  This project is a collaboration between Oberlin residents and college students to create an art and community space for the Oberlin Underground Railroad Society.  O.U.R.S. hopes to eventually buy this house; they will be holding an evening art auction May 28th to raise funding for the project.

All photos courtesy Gary Cohen.  To see more pictures of this show and others, visit his Flickr page.


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Maia Brown’s Senior Studio Exhibition

Maia Brown’s solo exhibition took place in a refreshing new location: 166 S Pleasant Street.  Her show, titled “You Who Stand in the Doorway, Come In”, was an exploration of the sites of memory.  Her entire body of work was built around Orthodox Jewish Tefilin, which are small leather boxes worn during prayer.  These sealed boxes contain passages of the Torah which are to be remembered daily, but the small slips of paper are meant to never be seen.

Maia’s work recreated Tefilin using leather, video animation and castings out of resin.  These Tefilin burst open, over-flowing with fabric, spices and even plants.  Her many drawings which surrounded the space used Tefilin as builidng blocks of abstract city-scapes.  Maia Brown wants us to open our collective memory, even the memories that are tightly sealed away, allowing all voices and stories to be heard.

The 166 S. Pleasant St house is part of the Building Prosperity Project, a collaboration between Oberlin residents and college students to create an art and community space for the Oberlin Underground Railroad Society.

All photos in this post courtesy John Seyfried.


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