Photography professor hosts 'Redlining' exhibition in Shenango Art Gallery

Empty parking lot with an abandoned grocery store overlayed with a smoke effect with text saying Redlining creates food deserts for residents who do not have access to healthy food options

A sample image from Venise Abell's photography exhibit titled "Redlining" that shows effects of redlining in neighborhoods and lack of grocery stores in minority communities creating food deserts.

Credit: Venise Abell

SHARON, Pa. — Penn State Shenango adjunct faulty member Venise Abell will showcase her photography series “Redlining” at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9, in the Lecture Hall Art Gallery on the Shenango campus. 

Redlining is the discriminatory practice of denying services to potential customers, or deliberately raising prices for residents based on the racial or ethnic makeup of the area in which they live. Areas with larger racial or ethnic minority populations are the most affected by this practice, causing neighborhoods to decline and systemic generational poverty to flourish. 

“Violence and government policy have played a major role in the destruction of Black communities,” said Abell. “The loss of factory jobs is the main reason attributed to the decline and blight of urban areas. This reasoning alone neglects to account for the unfair housing and banking practices that targeted non-white residents of urban areas.” 

Abell, an award-winning photographer, hopes that her exhibition showcasing the consequences of redlining in her native Youngstown, Ohio. The exhibit is intended to educate viewers about how the practice has shaped our view of modern urban areas. 

“It is racism that has formed the ghettos that plague inner cities across the United States,” Abell said. “The photographs are of abandoned houses and closed businesses and schools in and around my community. Industrial parks and freeways now stand where neighborhoods used to be.” 

Abell’s “Redlining” series has earned her the Diversity of Scholarship Award. She also was the recipient of the Joseph Salvatore Outstanding Studio Art Award and the David Hume Kennerly Award in Photography. The photography display on Feb. 9 also includes a reception where viewers can discuss the artwork with Abell. The event is free and open to the public.