Bringing attention to the face of immigration and socioeconomic disparities in America

NEWorks CEO Nolan Williams, Jr., Mann Center Festival Artistic Director, visited with students at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, under the tutelage of Professor Barbara Proud, to introduce the West Side/South Side project on January 22, 2018. 

West Side/South Side is curated by NEWorks Productions and presented in partnership with the Mann Center for the Performing Arts—as part of the Mann's 2018 festival, Brilliantly Bernstein: Beyond the Baton—and Fulton County Arts and Culture.

West Side/South Side is a photo exhibition purposed to draw public attention to the issues of community integration (immigration) and socioeconomic disparities. The core of this exhibition is derived from student photographers from top media university programs in Washington, D.C. (American University, The University of the District of Columbia), Philadelphia, PA (University of the Arts), and Atlanta, GA (Art Institute of Atlanta, Clark Atlanta University), who will tackle this project as a part of their course curriculum.

The exhibition title is inspired by American composer Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. Bernstein's work was inspired by the timeless Shakespearean work, Romeo and Juliet yet broke new artistic ground with the decision to explore in this musical a rivalry between two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds—one Puerto Rican, the other White. Premiered on Broadway in 1957, Bernstein challenged us to wrestle with issues of immigration and community integration. He also shone a spotlight on the social disparities that often distinguish one neighborhood from another—as civic resources are proven to be distributed inequitably.

60 years later, more than 60 students from our partner schools are producing images that compel us to grapple with these same topics anew. Their works will be featured online as a digital exhibition—alongside the works of professional photographers Iwan Bagus and Darnell Wilburn. Selected works will also be mounted in gallery spaces in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Philadelphia between May and September of 2018.