Mechthild Schmidt Feist

Clinical Professor, Department of Applied Undergraduate Studies, School of Professional Studies

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (May 27 - June 20) :

“Shanghai maps of light + shadow” will be an interactive city walk, created from photo-based digital ‘paintings’ and historic imagery mapped to Shanghai streets. It is a convergence of Professor Feist’s current mapping project on refugees in Greece, “the light and shadow” paintings series, and her own German heritage. She will trace her steps from modern Shanghai to the former Jewish quarter. Professor Feist will use today’s lit skyscrapers as in-camera ‘brushes’ on a way back 80 years to the shadows of the then-impoverished quarter of Shanghai that was the refuge of 20,000 Jews escaping the Germany of her grandparents. Today, it can be seen how the waves of war-ravaged refugees and people fleeing economic devastation tend to leave people numb to the humanity of those in most need. In “Shanghai maps of light + shadow” Professor Feist will use digitally altered photographic records mapped to street locations and brief narrative. She will use a camera as a visual journal to trace her steps and to serve as material for the resulting light paintings. The shadow paintings will be informed by her research on the exhibits and archives of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum and connections to scholars or guides who can identify remaining sites of Jewish heritage in the old quarter. This project continues her Engaged Media series, specifically “Involuntary Journeys”, a blog and mapping project about individual refugees’ journeys to the Moria camp on Lesbos, Greece. The goal for both projects is to point to the shared humanity in an effort to overcome the dehumanizing effect of statistics. The empathy that saved 20,000 lives 80 years ago – however different the details were - could guide people in the approach to war refugees today, be they from civil war in Syria or a drug war in Guatemala.

Last Name
Fellows Type
GRI Fellowship
GRI Fellows semester
Summer 2019