We Put Things Here

Matt Schoch is originally from Austin, Texas where attended a daycare run by a Mexican woman named Linda until he 6. He then moved to a suburb of Albany, New York called Clifton Park where he graduated Shendehowa High School in a class of 700 where 50 of them where non-white. He is currently attending the School of Visual Arts in New York City where he has lived in mid-Manhattan, Park Slope, and is now living in Sunset Park.

White flight and gentrification are two occurrences that have happeneced several times all over the world and throughout history. White flight is a trend of, but not limited to upper middle class white people moving from a non-white area to nearby locals such as suburbs and gentrification is the opposite trend where white people move into a non-white areas, typically diplacing many of the existing inhabitants. Occurrences of these two forms of migration are common in many cities, New York City being no exception. In a neighborhood in Brooklyn named Sunset Park, white flight occurred at a time when it most common throughout America, post-World War II. When the majority of the Irish, Polish and Norwegian that dominated the area moved for the suburbs, Mexicans, Peutro Ricans and Dominican Republicans moved in. In the 2000 census, Hispanics and Latinos made up the largest percentage of Sunset Park with 42%.

I just moved into Sunset Park in late August 2006. Being one of the few white people in the area, I felt singled out just by simply walking down the street. I felt people giving me unwelcome stares and I could hear them thinking that I am a rich white man invading their home. Yet this is completely not true in that they could not care less that I am here. This is all in my head. I'm making myself racist. This white guilt I am experiencing is seperating me from Sunset Park by race and class. Through my one year lease in Sunset Park, I want to experience my unexpected feelings about being racist and how I may be assisting in the problem of gentrification.


My objective for the first project under my thesis was to capture the feelings that led to the creation of the thesis. The dominant emotion of guilt and final destination of the poster were major factors that lead to forming ideas. The final poster became a personal view on the emotional effects of gentrification upon a self-concious white gentrifier.


The publication came out of a desire to further explain my situation giving the work that I produce a context. I wanted each page to be a visual expression of the route my mind took that lead to the reason why I felt white guilt and even myself as racist. It explained my issues with being a white person moving into a latino neighborhood of which is in the early stages of gentrification.


I created a package with intention of reaching someone that somehow related to my thesis and gaining a response. At the time, a major source for research and ideas was due to the writer of “White Guilt” and “A Dream Deferred,” Shelby Steele. For him I created a smaller book that explained what I am doing and how his books have influenced me. I followed this with questions about his research and his thoughts about my situation and state of white guilt.


A universal symbol illustrating the concept of “learning” through the use of a sponge as a brain.


A re-interpreted hand-sized book connecting themes from Lowis Lowry’s The Giver with my thesis topic using only images. This book highlights the importance of learning from human connections and the passage of knowledge from person to person through the use of hand photography. INT transfers illustrate the emotional qualities of these relationships. The use of sky, landscape, and tree imagery represents the idea that learning and human connections happen continuously throughout your life.


I realized that a lot of the people I talked to knew very little of what gentrification is and also every project so far has been a comment on gentrification either from my perspective or on the whole. Thusly for this project I decided to create a way for a viewer to learn what gentrification is as well as entertain them.


For this project I decided to create a way for myself to be integrated into my still foreign neighborhood. In order to do this I set out to get the locals to get to know me. I engaged in friendly natural conversations with the intent of simply getting to know them and allowing them to get to know me. After time and several conversation with several locals, how I see my neighborhood will completely change from that of an unfriendly entity to becoming part of a community. To document this, I created a poster that talks about the individuals that I met and what I've learned from them.