Project Book

Available for Purchase on BLURB

Project Book published in conjunction with the CHAP of the Orchard Street Shul

Historical narratives have a long tradition in visual art, literature, and film. The narratives serve to stir the imagination of both the author and the audience and in the best examples, the works hold to the rigor of historical accuracy. The Orchard Street Shul Cultural Heritage Project is in this tradition, a project building on the past while using the resources of inventive new technology and social networking to form a community of creative visual thinkers, designers and researchers focusing on different facets of how we document, interpret, and retell cultural legacies.

The Cultural Heritage Project brings together a diverse group of regionally and nationally noted professionals working with a trans-disciplinary methodology, whose work is inspired by community, neighborhood, history, architecture, and cultural tradition. Collectively and individually, the group is creating visual, written and sound works exploring and engaging with the history and changes of the OSS, contributing to its heritage and furthering a dialogue on its cultural relevance and role in an evolving urban community.

Exhibition: December 6 2009 - January 31, 2010
This collaborative effort culminated in an exhibition held at The John Slade Ely House in New Haven, Connecticut. The exhibition and accompanying project book are a collision of history and art in which the past unfolds the present to reveal what the future may hold for the OS and its neighborhood.

Artists researched their projects through a variety of means including archival documentation, consulting with current and former congregants and area residents, creating their own records using photography, video and sound and translating original data into 3D scanning that aids in keeping cultural heritage alive.

Cultural heritage is fluid concept, and this project successfully expanded notions of what the historic Orchard Street Shul site means for creative artists from all cultural backgrounds.

The project was, at the outset, spurred by an urgent need to make the public aware of efforts to save a community building that has been designated a Historic Site by the State of Connecticut. The project is without religious mission, but rather is the outpouring of thoughtful response and integrated research by those who found the story of this building and community to be compelling. The members of the Orchard Street Shul Cultural Heritage Project began with varying levels of familiarity with the story of immigration to New Haven at the turn of the 20th century, and the shared history of working class neighborhoods during a time of radical change throughout the United States. Through the fluid exchange of research and resources within the group, all participants are now finding new meaning in the narrative of the community and surrounding neighborhood of the Orchard Street Shul.

One of the positive outcomes of the project is an ongoing dialogue among artists on the conceptual inspirations derived from interaction with the building, as a symbol of a community. We hope that this will be a proto-type for similar future projects for other historic sites of meaning to other parts of our collective community and memory.