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MANSFIELD -- As Mark Sebastian Jordan set up a chicken-wire sculpture Saturday for Richland Source’s Reporting: Reimagined, the pieces inside his artwork shifted, and the Mansfield man realized that the elderly woman figure he’d created wasn’t likely to stand erect as initially intended.

The figure appeared to slouch backwards, collapsing under the weight of the items that filled its interior -- a curling iron, a doll, a clock, jewelry and a mix of other personal, practical and otherwise meaningful items. Each represented a memory, something that might have shaped the elderly woman’s hypothetical life.  

“In the process of moving it up here, her memories shifted, so when I reassembled the piece here, it looked like she was falling,” Jordan said. “And at first, I was trying to fix it, but then I stood back and looked at it, and realized, ‘Oh my god, that’s the whole point.’ Here she is at the end of her life, and she’s collapsing under the weight of her memories. 

Mark Jordan

Mark Sebastian Jordan

“I just thought, wow, that’s a happy accident that makes the work more meaningful than it was before.” 

His sculpture was one of 23 pieces displayed Saturday, June 29 at Idea Works to recognize and celebrate the conclusion of Richland Source’s year-and-a-half long solutions journalism projects, Rising from Rust and Gray Matters

Reporters involved in the Rising From Rust project dug into the history behind Richland County’s rust belt legacy and later covered how the region is moving forward, looking at local responses and highlighting solutions from elsewhere, too. 

Meanwhile, another portion of the staff tackled the Gray Matters project through stories about Richland County’s aging population, the challenges they and their caregivers face and the resources available to improve their lives. This was the inspiration for Jordan’s piece. 

“I’m a born contrarian, so when I heard a lot of people were choosing to work on Rising from Rust, my natural response was, then, I’ll work on Gray Matters,” Jordan said. “But it’s something that’s always been important to me. I’ve always been able to be friends with people of different generations, and I’ve found people who have been around have so much insight, so much experience.”