Last week I was wandering around campus, near 34th and Walnut, looking for something to occupy my attention while I waited for my Lyft ride to arrive. I sipped my coffee and stopped in front of Penn Bookstore (not the Penn Bookstore with the school merch and Starbucks cafe, but the one around the corner from a free standing Starbucks — not at all confusing, I know). Once I got inside the first book that caught my full attention was called Kensington Blues and the cover featured an image (below) that seemed familiar to me.
I was intrigued so I picked up the book and had a very honest encounter with the content inside. Local artist Jeffrey Stockbridge has been working on this project regarding the opioid crisis, specifically, in Kensington in Philly and is documenting the imagery and the words/lives of the people effected by it. The reason these images were familiar to me is because I have close family that lived in Kensington for a long while. I grew up seeing variations of these people here and there. My family worked under the El, lived on C street and I spent time working in a textile studio on Jasper. The pictures often are accompanied by the streets these people were on when Jeffrey encountered them.
The project is meant to shed light on the local crisis. And Jeffrey the artist and photographer (who graduated from Drexel in ’05) just had an exhibition last week discussing some more unpublished work of his in this project. Sadly, I learned about it too late, but he will be back to do another talk in the Penn Bookstore I mentioned earlier in May and he is having a Panel Discussion at Drexel in March. Go here if you want more details on him, his projects and his meetups: https://kensingtonblues.com/