This photo essay is a collaboration between myself and two students I worked with as a mentor at New Urban Arts, an arts-based after school program for Providence high school students. Both John Nguon and Adrienne Adeyemi assisted me on a project I did with NUA called the Providence Project.
The Providence Project was a neighborhood-by-neighborhood photo survey of Providence. We talked many times of taking pictures of the Broad Street food trucks, but during the Providence Project we never did. I so enjoyed working with them that during the summer before they both went to college, we took a number of photo outings. Jesse Banks, studio manager at NUA, also joined in.
On a beautiful Providence evening in July, Jesse, Adrienne, John, and I set out for Broad Street on Providence's South side to visit the Chimi trucks that set up there nightly.
These mobile food vendors park along a stretch of Broad Street from Trinity Square to the Cranston line. I have long had an interest in these food trucks. They seem emblematic to me of new Americans making their way in business, working with what they know and what they have, free of corporate franchises.
As a photographer I'm always on the lookout for the hand-painted sign and owner-operated business because that's where you find uniqueness. We found a lively energy around these trucks and in the various shops up and down the street. People gathered to talk and hang out, guys with flashy cars would show off, music came from all over.
This piece is also an example of looking at one scene or event from multiple points of view and with different recording media. Here we have four photographers, one with a big 8 x 10 camera on a tripod, the others with more mobile cameras and digital audio recordings. These different sources reflect our individual points of view and also explore the ways that different materials produce different renditions of the same subject.
The 8 x 10 camera always attracts attention and John and Adrienne quickly became pros at dealing with interested onlookers while I got my pictures. Recording digital audio was Adrienne's idea and came out of the many interesting experiences we had with passersby. The audio here captures street noise, conversation, music, and the steady roar of the Chimi truck generators. We recommend listening to it as you look at the photographs.
(Audio recordings by Adrienne and John; audio montage by Erik)
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