Telling a Story: Corine Vermeulen photographs the University Area

Pictured above: Linda, 2015. Pigment print.

GONZALES_FAMILYGonzales Family, 2015. Pigment print.

Corine Vermeulen is a Dutch artist who recently completed a three-month residency at USFCAM. Her work explores the social, cultural, and economic influences that impact communities by documenting the lives of residents through her photography and their stories. Her photographs have been featured in several publications including The New York Times and Time Magazine. In 2009 she was awarded The Kresge Artist Fellowship. Her first solo exhibition, Photographs from the Walk-in Portrait Studio (2009-2014), was a collection of photographs and stories capturing the residents of Detroit, Michigan.

DAISA.jpgDaisa, 2015. Pigment print.

During Corine’s stay at USFCAM she immersed herself in the University Area, known by many Tampa locals as Suitcase City. This part of Tampa is among the more impoverished and crime-ridden areas of Tampa, presently suffering from foreclosures. Over the three months of her residency, Corine and several assistants introduced themselves to residents of the area and handed out flyers in an attempt to make connections and capture stories. Tracy Wilson, assistant to Corine Vermeulen, said “All locations displayed a sense of care and concern. Although there were signs of abandonment and neglect, open trash cans and debris (at the gardens), homelessness (at bus stations and walking around), the people were not closed off…but very open to talk, to help, and to share how things can be better, how things have changed, and what it’s like living in this area known as Suitcase City.”

MOBILE_HOME_PARKNorth Tampa Family Park, mobile home park, 2015. Pigment print.

In an interview with Corine, she explained the challenges she faced when capturing the neighborhood because people were not necessarily open to the idea of making acquaintance to new faces, but over time she built relationships and people became much more receptive. “The interviews are just little moments in time, and hopefully all that together might give you an idea, and that’s good because it’s a very complex place. There’s a lot of underlying issues, and it’s not resolved.” After the portraits were taken, Corine made prints that were returned to the families at a community dinner held at the University Area Community Center Complex, where many of the residents were able to find out about resources offered by the University Area Community Development Corporation. Corine noted they were not just taking an image but giving back, in hopes that it could possibly implement a future change.

KALUPKalup as Kaye, 2015. Pigment print.

Corine is in the process of displaying 40 to 45 portraits, including one of Kalup Linzy, also an artist whose work is showcased in A Family Affair and a former resident of the University Area. A Family Affair features seven artists, including LaToya Ruby Frazier, Hank Willis Thomas, Deborah Willis, Jacolby Satterwhite, Kalup Linzy and Renee Cox, whose works will be displayed through December 12, 2015.

Jiesha Stephens
English Undergraduate
USFCAM Intern Writer

All images are from Vermeulen’s residency with USFCAM. Read more about Corine Vermeulen on the USFCAM blog here.

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