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Secret Spatial Histories of Santa Cruz

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Nick Lally of the Building collective explains how Santa Cruz stories will be mapped on MAH's walls.

By J.D. Hillard | KUSP News -

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History is in the midst of a living experiment in new ways to present exhibits. The usual approach is: build an exhibit and invite people to come see it. Through March 17th, however, MAH visitors can watch as installations grow before their eyes. KUSP’s J.D. Hillard spoke to members of The Building Collective. The group is creating a piece titled “building stories: secret spatial histories of santa cruz.”

Nick Lally is rubbing white worms of moistened paper from the back of an areal photograph of downtown Santa Cruz. It’s pasted to the wall of the third-floor landing of the Museum of art and history He’s graphically connecting personal history to geography. Spreading out all around the image are black marker lines connecting to post-its and black marker circles filled with quotes like:

“1974 anti-war protest was the biggest ever in Santa Cruz.  I was arrested at that protest and spent 3 days in jail.”

So last week we did a workshop about people telling stories about downtown,” Lally explains. “Things that Happened downtown. So now we’re transferring this map onto the wall we can start connecting their stories onto the map.”

More areal photographs and forms for collecting stories are spread on a table in the middle of the landing. Visitor Kai Golden and his mother approach the table and Lally’s Building Collective partner Kyle McKinley asks if Kai has anything to add to the day’s stories. Kai’s mother offers that he was born in a house on the west side of Santa Cruz.

“Oh yeah?” McKinley says. “This is perfect. This is exactly what we need.” He begins to copy the account into one of the forms.

The wall opposite the one where Lally is working has an areal map of the west side of Santa Cruz with plenty of white space around it, where soon Golden’s birth and other stories will go in this growing collaboration between artists and visitors to the  Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.

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