|Commissioning Entity||Neighborhood Allies|
The Placemaking + Temporary Public Art Program is a pilot program and a collaboration between Neighborhood Allies and the Office of Public Art. This initiative commissioned six artists, or artist teams, to collaborate with an organization that serves residents from one of six neighborhoods: the Hill District, Homewood, Larimer, Millvale, Wilkinsburg, and the Southern Hilltops (Allentown, Beltzhoover, and Knoxville).
Together, the organization selected from each neighborhood and the artists/artist teams designed a temporary public work of art that deeply engaged community residents. The process took approximately two years. During the first year, artists learned about the communities in which they worked, and during the second year, collaborated with residents and their community organization to create and implement a temporary public art project.
The Hill District partnership was between artist Njaimeh Njie and the Hill House Association.
In conceptualizing the work Homecoming, Njie wanted to focus on the narratives of Hill District residents. She began by conducting a series of informal interviews to better understand how residents felt about their neighborhood.
During the initial conversations, Njie discovered that Hill District residents wanted to see documentation that recognized authentic and positive stories from the neighborhood. To accomplish this, Njie gathered oral histories, photographs, and accessed archival materials. As she researched, Njie discovered connections throughout stories from the Hill District, and the emergent theme that interested the artist the most was the idea of home.
Njie explored how Hill District residents have made the neighborhood their home over time, and eventually decided that she wanted to tell the stories of Hill District residents. Her installations concentrate on the concept of visually gathering past and present residents in locations around the neighborhood.
For her installation on the outside wall of the August Wilson House, Njie designed a sitting room as the fictional space to place several figures. Njie photographed individuals from the neighborhood, and combined her work with images of people from old photographs, to create a new image that reflected the neighborhood’s history. Njie is currently working on installations for two other sites in the Hill District.
In describing her work Njie said, “Through images I first and foremost want to honor the everyday folks who have made the Hill [District] the rich place that it is. Through text excerpts from the oral histories, I want to use space to communicate residents' experiences, questions, and reflections in their own words. Overall these installations are a symbolic way of connecting people across space and time, and they hopefully represent how honoring lived experiences can be a start to imagining a better, more equitable future.”
Njaimeh Njie is a Pittsburgh based photographer, filmmaker, and multimedia producer. Her practice is rooted in social justice. She uses imagery to explore the everyday lives of groups of people frequently pushed to the margins. Her work has earned coverage from outlets such as the Huffington Post, the Carnegie Museum of Art blog, and Blavity. Njaimeh has exhibited both locally and nationally. In addition to her independent work, Njaimeh is the Founder/Lead Producer of Eleven Stanley Productions, a nonfiction storytelling company. A Pittsburgh native, Njaimeh earned a B.A. in film and media studies from Washington University in St. Louis, and an M.Ed in secondary education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Biography courtesy of the artist.