The PResent absence Project

Making history visible & futures imaginable

The Present Absence Project is an immersive Public Art Project about the legacy of the Katie B Reynolds Memorial Hospital. In summer of 2020, we will unveil a digital collage honoring this important piece of Winston-Salem’s history.

Please check back as we share our journey.

Our Inspiration

This project began with a decades long Question– How do we make history erased by bulldozers in the 1950’s Winston-Salem visible and interesting today? This question gained focus for us in 2016 as we began to research East Winston in terms of history, natural history, urban design, alternatives to gentrification, economic mobility, and more at the Center for Design Innovation.

We have set out to create Public Art vividly brings focus the stories of neighborhoods that built the city of Winston-Salem as it is today. Some of our most influential communities disappeared in waves of modernization that began in the 1950s.

Traces remain, still visible to older residents of our city, but not legible or knowable to the majority. Our project brings these stories to the fore, while also enlivening the broader story of historical erasure in the wake of urban renewal. Our vision builds on important community engagement work that members of our team have been part of for ten years—researching the stories of these influential neighborhoods— and newer initiatives—building programs in Public Art and Public History at two Winston-Salem universities. We appreciate the opportunity to share our project concept with you.