Student Research Partnership in Cinema and Media Studies: The Wandering House

25 January 2023

In summer 2022 Valentina Guerrero Chala ’24 and Cecilia Cornejo worked to develop a digital version of the Lanesboro Community Quilt. This quilt is part of a larger project called The Wandering House, which contains audio testimonies recorded by Northfield and Lanesboro residents. The fragments responded to the prompt “I know I’m home when…” and were subsequently embroidered by community members. Valentina shared her experience with the Humanities Center.

“My job as a developer was to design and implement a website that displays audio testimonies, individual embroidered pieces, and individual participants’ statements. Given that this is the second phase of a larger project and I had already developed the digital version of the Northfield quilt, this was a great opportunity to rethink how to make the site more robust and accessible. My first task was to fix some of the issues of the site I had previously developed. Some pictures were not loading correctly, and I had to come up with a more reliable solution because this was a crucial feature of the website. Luckily, after playing around with different databases, I was able to find an excellent platform to host all these data files. After adding just a couple of extra lines of code, the page worked perfectly. The sense of accomplishment and adrenaline I got after I managed to fix this bug is one of the highlights of my summer. The second most interesting experience I had was developing the Lanesboro quilt. Although I was already familiar with this project because I had already designed one of the quilts, this artwork represented new challenges: it was too horizontal and most pictures had unusual shapes. This time, instead of simply developing a digital copy of a physical quilt, I had to be much more creative and come up with a different structure. The outcome reflects my problem-solving skills and my ability to combine art with technology.

In terms of career development, this project convinced me that I can use my computer science skills to contribute to meaningful, sustainable, and impactful initiatives. As to my skills, this project helped me learn more about the intersection between humanities and technology by encouraging me to think about what aspects of a piece of art can be lost or highlighted when translated into a virtual space.

Working with Cecilia was an excellent experience. Given that we come from different fields —she is a CAMS professor and I am a CS major— we had to learn how to communicate in non-tech terms. This helped me improve my teamwork skills. Similarly, she was also born and raised in Latin America so it was very refreshing to connect with a faculty member whom I share some key life experiences with.”