Commemorative Objects: Divine Intervention Ministries

4/22/2005 - 5/7/2005

For this exhibition, SPACE and Divine Intervention Ministries collaborated to explore the commemorative practices of families who have lost loved ones due to acts of violence. These installations of crafted objects, ready-mades and documentation reflect upon the processes group members use in order to work through issues of faith, grief, healing and remembrance. The objects and projects they chose to display mark both personal, private gestures as well as forms of public expression. They document the acts of remembering and coping as daily rituals — and the acts of speaking and sharing as efforts to give voice to their memories, insert themselves into the seemingly insurmountable criminal justice system, and to move forward as they strive toward personal healing and community advocacy.

A number of family members brought items they’ve created as private memorials for their children, such as bronzed shoes, silkscreened banners, laminated stones and photographic collages. Some have meticulously documented the details of their children’s lives and their deaths. For example, Louanna Coward videotaped a recreation of the events that lead up to her son Harry’s murder. Kathy Perla has saved her nearly 10-year-old paper trail of correspondence with law enforcement officials, attorneys and media representatives — evidence of her efforts to find new information related to her son Nick Palone’s death. And Carmen Davis saved a box of her son Milton’s drawings and poems; works found only months after his passing.

Others worked with local artists and SPACE staff to produce documentation of their projects. For example, Valerie Dixon collaborated with T.Foley to make a short video of a telephone pole along Larimer Avenue, near the site of her son Robert’s death. Valerie, along with friends and family, decorates the pole with memorabilia, poems, and personal items on holidays and other special occasions. Foley has carefully captured the minute details — stapling a photograph or writing an affectionate tribute with a sharpie pen. These intimate actions suggest the nature of her lifelong work: Like that of many family members of Divine Intervention Ministries, Valerie’s efforts to preserve the memory of her son, and advocate crime prevention occurs in small, incremental gestures. These displays serve as one part of their ongoing stories.

Special thanks to T.Foley and Carrie Schneider, who collaborated with family members to produce photographic and video documentation for this exhibition.

Sponsored in part by the Media Literacy Education Program at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and 91.3 FM WYEP.