February – October 2020
The novel coronavirus forced us to put major collaborative work on the project on pause, as we worked to determine how we could hold in-person connection with the community. The core team continued to meet periodically, and sustained research and conversation about the role of medical [in]equity in the tragedies our nation faced, conversations that further nurture the relevant meaning of this project.
Mural Design & Community Engagement Session
After immersion in conversations, archival research, community research and photo and video shoots, our Lead Artist, Owens Daniels has created the first two series’ of prototypes for the Present Absence mural to bring into dialogue with the design committee. He began his layered process with a historical photo of “Katie B” hospital staff, and has continued to deepen our shared exploration of history, growth, community and honor.
With “Katie B” alumni, community members, and a UNC-TV crew in attendance, we hosted a community engagement session at our home base, UNC’s Center for Design Innovation. We shared our process with the community and expanded and deepened the discussion around Owens’ work.
Poet Intern Joins Our Team
Our dedicated core team of historians, artists, filmmakers, and community leaders has expanded to include poet and Winston-Salem State University student Raven Golston. Raven’s combined passion for creative writing and African-American history brings a vital new perspective to Present Absence. Throughout this project, we have collected images, interviews and stories about “Katie B,” which Raven will use to inspire and inform poetry about the hospital.
Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Reunion
We are honored to attend the annual Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Reunion. This gathering includes former nurses, doctors, and educators, and their families who sustain the memory of the impact of the hospital on Winston Salem and on excellence in healthcare around the nation. Our Lead Documentarian Alex Fuentes captured Betsy Towns’ interviews with staff members, while our Lead Artist, Owens Daniels created portraits of many members of the “Katie B” Community.
Community Engagement Sessions
This project began with a desire to make histories of East Winston that urban renewal erased, visible through the arts. Our team held community engagement sessions at Delta Arts Center to draw out key stories from the MLK, Jr. Blvd corridor that the community wanted to bring into public consciousness. Overwhelmingly, stories about the Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Hospital resonated with the community.