Summer Centered: Colin Fredrickson ’20 Explores History, Art, and Memory in New Orleans
Sponsored by the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, the growth and structure of cities major is using public art and storytelling to answer questions about confronting the past and building for the future.
For Colin Fredrickson '20, being a growth and structure of cities major and history minor means tackling the tough conversations about monuments, memorials, and the relationship between public space and the individual.
"Monuments play an important role as items of cultural importance and often sources of pride—or shame,” Fredrickson said. “Opinions about public monuments offer a key insight into the way that citizens relate to places and events that have been deemed significant to the city and, by extension, to their identity as it relates to their city.”
Fredrickson is spending his days working with Paper Monuments, an organization that combines public education and collaborative design to expand the collective understanding of the history of New Orleans, alongside fellow Haverford student Isabella Siegel ‘19 in the heat of the Big Easy. His internship, as well as Siegel’s, is supported by the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. In addition to financial support from the College, Fredrickson credits Haverford with introducing him to the organization through a string of academic encounters during the year.
"I learned about this internship through my work with Monument Lab, a project by Philadelphia Mural Arts spearheaded by former Haverford professor Paul Farber,” said Fredrickson, “I met the directors of Paper Monuments through a related course I took through the Quaker Consortium at the University of Pennsylvania.”
For Fredrickson, working with Farber and Monument Lab helped lay the foundation for orchestrating conversations about the relationship between art, cities, and history that he looks forward to applying with Paper Monuments.
"I greatly enjoyed my time at Monument Lab, talking with Philadelphians about how the history and culture of their city is being represented in their public spaces, and I was curious how the same conversation would carry over to New Orleans,” he said. “Considering the national news coverage that New Orleans' monuments have gotten in the past year, this seemed like a terrific opportunity to witness the development of a new broadly inclusive monument landscape in New Orleans, and to see Paper Monuments set an example for the rest of the American South.”
As an intern with Paper Monuments, Fredrickson assists with the planning and execution of different poster installations around the city, which has been the organization’s signature project since its founding in July 2017. While his focus is on these installations, Fredrickson also has a hand in many of Paper Monuments’ other endeavors, including working with the production team on their newspaper (The Paper Trail) and participating in weekly meetings about the long-term goals of the organization.
"I hope to engage with the individual stories, histories, and experiences of the city in the same way I did with Monument Lab,” he said. “Hearing from individuals in Philadelphia painted a picture of a city with many different histories and animated spaces in the city with personal stories and experiences.”
Fredrickson’s time with Paper Monuments has encouraged him to continue pursuing these conversations when he returns to Haverford in the fall to begin his junior year.
"I plan on continuing to study the relationship between the built environment and the preservation of city/cultural identity,” he said. “Whether this involves working with monuments or not remains to be seen.”
One thing Fredrickson does know for sure: it is easy for anyone interested in history and cities to get involved and participate in this type of work.
"Seeing the conversation around monuments both here and in Philly has got me thinking about what an appropriate monument to my hometown and other places I know well would look like,” said Fredrickson. “I encourage everyone to think about these same questions as they relate to the places they call home, and I highly suggest that Haverford students explore the almost 5000 monument proposals for the city of Philadelphia collected by Monument Lab to learn about the stories that are not being told in your city. I also suggest reading about the history of New Orleans through Paper Monuments' many poster installations.”
"Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.