© Susanna Crum, 2008-2019

Breaking the Loop [The Loop], 2015

Cyanotype triptych, 30" x 66"

"Held from Beneath: an Exploration of Cultural Sustainability" 

 

Carnegie Center for Art and History

Louisville, KY

 

Jan 23 - April 4, 2015

Shared, public spaces stand at the intersection of past, present, and future, and bear witness to a diversity of unique experiences and memories. From 1905 to 1969, Louisville’s Fontaine Ferry amusement park was a citywide destination for dancing, rides, swimming, carnival games, and dates. The cyanotype blueprint, Breaking the Loop [The Loop], overlays social and material artifacts such as interviews, news articles, advertisements, and maps to ask, “How is ‘now’ constructed of ‘then’?”

 

Wherever we live, we inherit our home’s social histories. The familiar click-clack of Fontaine Ferry’s wooden rollercoaster echoed throughout a neighborhood that was undergoing swift and lasting changes in its social makeup. Such changes were founded in institutionalized racial separation and strategic concentration of poverty, with methods like real estate “blockbusting” and federally-endorsed “redlining.”

 

Though the reasons for the park’s closing are complex, Fontaine Ferry’s story is one that can be observed throughout the country. Just as the park’s first rollercoaster, The Loop-the-Loop, featured a terrifying arc that encouraged spectators more than active participants, American urban neighborhoods were locked into spirals of decline seen to affect only part of a population. Understanding the complexity of a place’s past is integral to breaking the loop.

 

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Many thanks to the Filson Historical Society, the Frazier History Museum, the Kentucky Oral History Commission, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the University of Louisville Archives and Records Center, and the Louisville Free Public Library for preserving and allowing access to my hometown’s histories.