TRIPOD at Writers Room Embarks on Third Year of Artistic Collaboration
Canon Solutions America, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., Inc., and Drexel University in Philadelphia announced the launch of a third year of the TRIPOD at Writers Room program, an initiative through the Drexel University College of Arts and Sciences with programming on campus and at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, co-founded and supported by Canon Solutions America.
The TRIPOD at Writers Room program began in 2017 when representatives from Canon Solutions America and Drexel University met to discuss opportunities to work together in a way that would make an impact in the West Philadelphia community, as well as with Drexel students. Born from that meeting was the idea of combining and enhancing existing initiatives such as Canon Solutions America's Future Authors Project and Drexel's Writers Room, as well as local high school writing programs. The creation was a unique inter-generational program in which "triads," each comprising a high school student, university student, and a member of the local community, would collaborate through writing and the element of photography to enhance their artistic potential. Using Canon imaging equipment, the program has expanded to include photography education, field trips and cultural events, weekly meetings, and monthly workshops. Groups of writers worked together to document West Philadelphia and other parts of the city through photography, stories, poems, and essays.
The resulting works of the past two programs were compiled into books published by Canon Solutions America; "TRIPOD: People, Places, Portraits" in 2018 and "Notes to Self" earlier this year. Images from each program were printed in large format and displayed in the Art & Literature Department at the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the "Notes to Self" images are included as part of a current printed mural installation in Drexel's MacAlister Hall.
Additionally, artist Michelle Angela Ortiz collaborated with Jordan McCullough and Carol Richardson McCullough, both TRIPOD writers-in-residence, to lead a mural painting session inspired by "Notes to Self." The mural was installed at the Free Library of Philadelphia as part of the national Conference on Community Writing hosted by Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania October 17-19, 2019.
The TRIPOD program has grown in both size and reputation, as more local organizations have asked to participate and returning members were joined by additional students from other area schools. Alumni from the community took on mentorship roles and undergraduate program alumni took on leadership roles in support of the program, including Artist Year Fellowships and Writers Room's first Alumni Fellow, all critical to expanding the reach and impact of the program.
"Last year we expanded beyond the bounds of our initial vision," said Rachel Wenrick, Founding Director of Writers Room. "In addition to their creative work, TRIPOD members embarked on a two-year, community-led participatory action research study funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The project, "Anti-Displacement: The Untapped Potential of University-Community Cooperative Living," investigates alternate affordable housing options in West Philadelphia. In year three, partnerships and opportunities continue to expand, with our TRIPOD participants serving as the official documentarians for the national Conference on Community Writing and with many more collaborations planned."
"Canon Solutions America is thrilled to begin a third year of collaboration with Drexel University and the TRIPOD at Writers Room program," said Peter Kowalczuk, President of Canon Solutions America. "We are proud to support a program that offers a platform for such unbounded creativity and touches so many areas of Philadelphia."
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