‘Fourteen Frames’ aims to create discussions on race, identity


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

“Fourteen Frames” a gallery that profiles Northwestern students’ experiences with race, is displayed at Norris University Center. The OpenShutter Project, a group within Global Engagement Summit, created the gallery as well as a corresponding Tumblr page.

Shane McKeon, Reporter

A group within Global Engagement Summit launched a Tumblr page and physical gallery profiling 14 Northwestern students and their experiences with race and identity.

“Fourteen Frames” opened at Norris University Center on Nov. 5, the same day the Tumblr page went live with supplemental videos of some of the gallery’s subjects. The OpenShutter Project, a group within GES that focuses on discussing social change through art and visual media, organized the exhibit.

The page contains links to short videos of some of the students, who discuss what race and identity mean to them. In addition, other students can submit their own views on race through a text field linked on the page.

Medill junior Kalina Silverman, co-founder and co-president of the Mixed Race Student Coalition, was featured in the gallery and said it is important to discuss race on college campuses.

“Race is a tricky phenomenon to navigate on campus, especially when you grow up defining yourself a certain way,” Silverman said. “Then you come to campus and your philosophies and political views are also swayed as you learn more and more. It’s up to you to choose how to define yourself, and that can be very tricky.”

The OpenShutter Project reached out to groups on campus — Greek organizations, multicultural groups, religious groups — and asked those who were interested in participating to sign up for an interview. These interviews, participants said, were informal, open conversations about their views on and experiences with race. The group filmed these conversations and posted short clips from them on the Tumblr. 

Weinberg junior Roshan Abid, a member of the South Asian Student Alliance, also participated in the gallery. He said “Fourteen Frames” is especially valuable because it allows students to hear their peers’ experiences “firsthand.”

“I think that this project is really cool because one thing people do when they address race and inclusion issues, they will acknowledge it, but it’s hard to understand the issue from the perspective of the person involved,” Abid said.

Abid also said the student-run, student-focused project would benefit the campus more than an administrator-run project.

Communication sophomore Nikita Kulkarni, who was also featured in the gallery, agreed, saying student-to-student discussions of race often foster greater honesty.

“I think when administrators do things, it automatically makes it seem like they’re being condescending or like they’re just obligated to pay attention to you,” Kulkarni said. “It kind of tempts you to not say your true feelings. Whereas when it’s peer-run, peer-organized, you don’t feel like it’s something you’re forced to do. You share how you’re actually thinking about it.”

Although the website will remain up indefinitely, the gallery at Norris is scheduled to come down Nov. 15.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of videos accompanying the Tumblr page. There are 11 videos. The Daily regrets the error.

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Twitter: @Shane_McKeon