Cassidy Porter, ’23, Spotlights Women of Albion with Capstone Project

July 21, 2023

According to Cassidy Porter, ’23, the Albion community is filled with women who – along with the work they do – often go unnoticed.

“Women are the silent background of our town,” Porter said. “People don’t always pay attention to what our women are involved in, and for the most part, the women are pretty quiet about it, yet we know they are putting in the time.”

So when it came time to think about her Build Albion Fellow, BAF, senior capstone project, Porter knew women needed to be front and center. The BAF program recently hosted a public display of Porter’s capstone in downtown Albion. The unique display and reception attracted about 50 students, faculty, staff and community members, celebrating Porter’s artwork and the women featured in it.

“I’m really humbled and not sure I belong in this group of women. They’ve done so much,” said Juanita Solis Kidder, known to hundreds of Albion residents through her presence at Homestead Bank, Citizens to Beautify Albion and numerous other organizations. “Cassie did a fantastic job. It’s nice to see the talent of our local students.”

All BAF seniors must complete a capstone project, which demonstrates some aspect of their college work and is focused on the Albion community. A business major with an art minor, Porter designed a “multi-perspective” template for showcasing her subjects. Each woman was interviewed and photographed at one of their favorite locations in Albion, then their final piece includes a quote about Albion and a separate photograph of their chosen spot.

“When developing my project I wanted to highlight women but I also wanted to highlight the amazing town we all love,” Porter said. “Having each woman choose their own location, I was able to showcase a range of places in Albion that the college community may not have been exposed to.”

The 13 women in Porter’s capstone range in age from 20 to 75, spanning many demographics and touching nearly every social, civic and professional corner of the city.

“I even included myself,” Porter said with a smile. “I wanted to establish my own credibility for having a voice in what’s good about Albion. I wanted to showcase my ‘why.’”

Her positive attitude, Porter said, was only strengthened by the many new stories she heard while doing her interviews.

Retired educator Gwen Tabb “wanted to be photographed at Vision of Life, because her support of that community center is important to her,” Porter said. “Gwen told me that (Vision of Life founder) Vera Simpson cooked and sold meals in the neighborhood and she used that money, paycheck by paycheck, to pay the contractors. Gwen bought one of the meals and that’s what started her involvement. I just loved hearing how much passion the citizens of Albion have for the parts they play in the town.”

The interviews also gave Porter a new window on her visual art.

“I’ve never done photography in association with interviews and I found out I love being able to tell a story behind a photograph,” she said. “I didn’t love transcribing the interviews, but I love capturing a moment and a story, so in the end the transcription work paid off.”

The exhibit includes quotes about belonging, love and how Albion has turned lemons to lemonade over the years.

“I loved Albion before and this is a way to show some of what’s so great about this community,” Porter said. “The more I got into this project, the more people I met – there’s more and more I could do. I hope I can keep working on this.”

Porter graduated with a degree in business, a minor in art and a concentration in the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Omicron Delta Epsilon and Mortar Board.