The Hippodrome Art Gallery could be confused with the streets around it with its latest update, “Hipp Humans: A Collection of Stories from the Humans of Gainesville,” unveiled April 22.
The free exhibit features a snapshot of the Gainesville community, focusing on strengths large and small. He was inspired by “Humans of New York”: a website and book by author and photographer Brandon Stanton that portrays people on the streets of New York.
Participants can browse 25 portraits and their corresponding stories in the gallery. The exhibit also includes an interactive wall allowing patrons to answer hard-hitting questions about their own lives.
HippHumansGNV is a instagram-Hippodrome marketing initiative with an accompanying art gallery that brings the project to life. The goal is to share the stories of members of the Gainesville community through their portraits and interviews.
Grace Munroe, a 22-year-old graphic designer and marketing intern at the Hippodrome, composed the project by interviewing, photographing and telling stories of various Gainesville residents who play a leading role – whether in the community or in their personal presentation.
Investigators asked for life advice or important memories to start the conversations, but the subjects’ excitement generally drove the rest.
“People like to talk about themselves,” said Le-Alem Getachew, 25, marketing associate at the Hippodrome. “They will go away.”
The Hipp Humans Project connects its star citizens and highlights their pivotal roles in painting the Gainesville portrait.
One of the subjects of the exhibit is Cristina Cabada Sidawi, a 22-year-old local cook, DJ and vintage clothing dealer. She expressed her admiration for the work of HippHumans.
“It’s a really cool portrait of what the community of Gainesville is like and how different it is, and how everyone comes from different backgrounds and identities and different spaces,” Sidawi said.
HippHumans is managed by Munroe and Getachew. Although Getachew originated the idea, Munroe led the project. The duo’s marketing goal was to reach new demographics like younger audiences and those who might have suspended their presence and support during COVID-19.
The companion HippHumans Instagram gallery opened as the social media page’s launch party, though the overwhelming support from the community gave the exhibit life beyond itself. As such, the exhibition could extend its duration by a month further into the summer, according to Getachew.
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Visitors can expect the show to return in the fall just like Gainesville does: with new faces and a renewed style.
As for the origin of the subjects, the employees of the Hippodrome did not need to go far.
As a project heavily inspired by the connectivity and eclecticity of downtown Gainesville, Munroe and Getachew primarily scouted the Heartwood Soundstage Market, Depot Park, the Racetrack, and downtown in general.
Topics were selected both by importance to the community and by random impulse; Le-Alem refers to Bo Diddley’s beloved grandchildren, and Munroe describes that he picks on “quirky” people.
“There was a man on a bicycle who would talk about government for hours, and he was trying to get us to join a republic with him,” Munroe said.
Once the profiles and portraits were completed, they were whittled down to a diverse selection of the most successful interviews for printing and framing. The remaining profiles have been archived for eventual sharing on the exhibition’s Instagram.
Munroe, who majored in sustainability while attending UF, also purchased the frames of the used prints from local thrift stores.
“We didn’t want to buy frames, not only because we didn’t want to spend the budget, but because we’re very ‘used, support small stores,’ and stuff like that,” Munroe said.
The nature of thrifty frames also meant that they would not be uniform; an aspect that Munroe noted to represent the individuality of each member of the Gainesville community’s history and personality.
After compiling interviews and gathering executives, the exhibition was ready to open. When the exhibit opened, much of the crowd was made up of the project’s subjects, which created a real sense of community, Munroe and Getachew said.
“Maybe it was people I knew and some I didn’t know, but I got to know them all by walking through the exhibit and seeing all their framed photos and reading their stories,” Sidawi said. .
His colleague Laila Fakhoury, 24, co-founder of the Dion Dia label and co-owner of How Bazar, was similarly hit.
“There were people in there saying to me, ‘I don’t deserve to be in this gallery.’ There are so many amazing people that were included and it was such an honor to be a part of that,” Fakhoury said. “It was really beautiful and quite surreal as well.
The creators shared similar sentiments to Fakhoury.
“It was so cool because they were on the walls but they were walking around, so it was kind of surreal at first,” Munroe said. “It was as if the characters in a book were jumping off a page.”
However, representing another side of the humans of Gainesville was the downgrade of the interactive section later on opening night.
“This woman and her family or friends drew inappropriate pictures and things all over the posters. Fortunately, our cinema manager and our partner replaced him that night, so he didn’t see the general public,” Getachew said with a laugh.
Community support was not complicit, however; Munroe and Getachew were surprised by the love they received.
The expo opened at 6:30 p.m. and had a line of attendees at 6:25 p.m., Munroe said.
“We didn’t think anyone was coming,” Getachew said. “It was just lovely to see.”
HippHumans takes topic suggestions through their Instagram and the exhibit’s suggestion box. HippHumansGNV is not affiliated with the “Humans of Gainesville” FaceBook Page, a page also inspired by Brandon Stanton’s “Humans of New York.”.”
Contact Anna Ward at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @AnnaWard_.
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