Student blog of the Stanford University Urban Studies Department


Joanne’s Boutique

The past fall quarter I wrote a senior paper on the newly commissioned public art sculptures on MacDonald Avenue in Richmond, CA. In the paper, I analyzed the archival photographs, text and themes of diversity, community, nostalgia and immigrant narratives. Currently, I am expanding on this paper, but through film. “Joanne’s Boutique” turned out to be my introductory film, the film that prepares me making my larger piece. The process of making this film  brought up many questions over what is the appropriate form (documentary, fiction, experimental, collage?) of film to investigate questions surrounding race, citizenship and inclusion. How do I make a film that explicitly investigates citizenship and race through interviews of Richmond residents? At last, it was very difficult to have these discussions in front of a recording camera.

I had known of Joanne’s Boutique before my research project, but I never entered the shop to see what was inside. Yet, once I started reading articles, the boutique and owner were repeated, often declaring her as one of the survivors of 1970’s urban renewal. I knew I had to interview her. What resulted is this video. An introduction to Richmond history and larger social themes (race riots, urban redevelopment, post World War 2 society) through the account of one woman. 

-Edgardo Cervano-Soto


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