Upstate Girls: Unraveling Collar City

Presented by

Curated by Brenda Ann Kenneally

Featuring: Sabrina Cardenales, Billie Jean Hill, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Breyanna King, Terri Mason, James Miles, Jessica Schubart, Chantell Secore, Matthew Allan Solomon, Robert Stocklas Jr., Dana Marie Wells, Elliott Wells, Anne Marie Wood, and Heather Redcross

Since 2004, Kenneally has made still photographs, filmed videos, lead participatory scrapbooks workshops, and collected ephemera from an extended family of young people as they have come of age on one block in North Troy, New York. Troy’s rich history as a prototype for the Industrialization of America has become an integral character in the work and driven Kennelly’s obsession with connecting our past to its legacy. Kenneally’s ongoing dedication to her North Troy neighborhood is sustained by the core belief that individual stories pointedly reflect the social policies of their day and that if history is to be recorded accurately, we must constantly reinsert them selves back into the America narrative. The Upstate Girls: Unraveling Collar City History Project honors the idea that telling ones own story in a deeply personal way can be the strongest political action an individual can take.

Related Programming:
The American Dream: Documenting Economic Inequality in America

Brenda Kenneally
uses a camera to create a shared space with the people and places she is drawn to photograph. She says that she takes pictures to remember what she learned while she was taking pictures. The photographs are never the point in themselves but rather serve as introductions to what she feels she needs to understand. Kenneally says that she has never been interested in the state of things as they are, but more with how they came to be that way. Like all relationships, the ones that she develops through her camera take time and nurturing. Brenda says she doesn’t know if one can capture time through photography, but she is never in a hurry when she is taking pictures. Kenneally says that she stopped calling herself a photojournalist once she admitted that she was more interested in collecting photographs from people that making new ones. Kenneally’s letterhead now reads Digital Folk Artist. Some organizations that she has been funded by include The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, Open Society Foundation, Getty Images, W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, Alicia Patterson Foundation, and Mother Jones.


The Raw File Collective has worked extensively with community arts organizations since its inception in 2007. We have created multi media scrapbook programs for The Sanctuary For Independent Media in Troy, NY and for World Press Photo in Perth, Australia. We have mounted people’s history exhibits during Art Basel in Miami and for Bushwick Open Studios in New York. The Raw file was co-founded by Laura LoForti and Brenda Ann Kenneally. Our core production crew is Steven Zeswitz, Murray S. Cox, and Seam Mc Donald. The Raw File Folks think of our installation as art actions in that the act of putting up the work is as important as the content.