Episode 59: LaGuardia students document and create through COVID

During the past year, we’ve had conversations with a number of CUNY citizens who have created something positive out of the COVID-19 experience. In September, Char Adams talked with us about COVID University New York, the podcast she co-produced with the Gotham Center that features the voices of a variety of New Yorkers and their work and challenges during the pandemic. In January, Cathy Davidson, Dree-el Simmons and Tatiana Ades shared with us the story behind their Manifold project, We Eat: A Student-Centered Cookbook, an unplanned project that was borne out of the abrupt turn we all took in March 2020 as a result of the move to remote teaching and learning. In this episode, Cynthia Tobar, Head of Archives at Bronx Community College, talks with Molly Rosner, Assistant Director of Education Programs at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College and Summer Walker, a student in LaGuardia’s Commercial Photography program, about the creation of Portraits of an Epicenter: NYC in Lockdown. This, too, was the result of an unexpected turn of events in Spring 2020. Eight student scholars had begun the semester with plans to engage with the Wagner and LaGuardia Archives to focus on 1980s New York but had to improvise quickly and ended up setting their sights very much on the current moment. While they used traditional practices of archive development and curating to create their new project, they went beyond collecting physical artifacts and ephemera to include the vulnerable, emotional aspects of their unique experiences as well. The moving portrayal helped the creators to process the present and serves as a valuable document of an unprecedented period that will be archived at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives and available for researchers and future students.

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