By Amanda Nardiello
On Oct. 25, Sacred Heart University’s Edgerton Art & Design Gallery hosted an exhibit on poverty and inequality.
The exhibit was a joint effort between Sacred Heart faculty and students, P.T. Partners and residents of P.T. Barnum Apartments in Bridgeport.
P.T. Partners is a non-profit organization that assists low-income neighborhoods with the improvement of their living opportunities.
The idea for the exhibit stemmed from Dr. Gerald Reid, an anthropology and sociology professor at Sacred Heart. Reid’s sociology lecture, “Poverty and Inequality in the United States,” assigned an oral history project where his students interviewed P.T. Barnum residents.
“This started with my effort to try to bring the study of poverty and inequality to the real world, to turn this into a service learning project. The idea was to bring my students together with the P.T. Barnum residents to educate one another about the poverty and inequality in America today,” said Reid.
Reid wanted to find a way to humanize and personalize what his students were studying in his course, so he thought he could do it in a way that would also contribute to the whole Sacred Heart community.
Many students and faculty members attended the exhibit to support their colleagues and become more informed on the topic.
“I think it really puts poverty and inequality in perspective. You see the stories of what the residents went through and the struggles they are still facing. It makes you realize not only how privileged you are, but also the difference you can make helping these people,” said senior Danielle Tenney.
Senior Lauryn Kostopoulos is currently a social work intern at P.T. Partners. She said how the residents want to have a stable home life but are unable because of the circumstances they live in.
“Bringing this exhibit here to Sacred Heart opens up everybody’s eyes to what is going on. This needs to be fixed because this is our community and it needs to thrive,” said Kostopoulos.
The exhibit had images of P.T. Barnum Apartments, the residents and the data collected from the project. It also included photography from the event that was produced by senior Gianna Ianotti.
“All the data from the exhibit was focused on poverty and how it’s represented. They wanted to show what kind of environment the P.T. Barnum residents live in,” said Ianotti.
Professor Jonathan Walker from the College of Art and Design created the design of the exhibit.
“The theme is about poverty and inequality in the Bridgeport area. The P.T. Barnum residents have been hidden away. The housing apartment projects themselves are surrounded by heavy industry like an asphalt plant, a concrete plant, sewage plant and a garbage and energy plant,” said Walker.
Reid said that the idea behind this exhibit is to give people at P.T. Barnum Apartments an opportunity to tell their stories. They want to make sure that community isn’t silenced anymore.
The exhibit hopes to educate on the situations that people affected by poverty go through each day.
“Poverty and inequality is a significant problem in America. It’s a dangerous thought of how people in poverty are somehow responsible for the situation they find themselves in, when in reality these are people who work very hard for themselves and their children,” said Reid.