Jennifer Vanderpool is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, and writer based in Los Angeles, California, United States. A native of the Mahoning Valley in Northeast Ohio, she draws on her immigrant Ukrainian family’s stories about working in sweatshops and factories as a lens to question the social construction of place based on the influences of history, race, class, gender, and labor. She explores workers’ lives and cities through community-specific and site-responsive projects.

Jennifer Vanderpool is one of DePOT’s 2023-2024 Artists-in-Residence along with Jill McKnight. 

City Beautiful is a publicly accessible community-specific and site-responsive social practice art project. It consists of three interconnected mediums. The first is an app creating an augmented reality digital mapping of Youngstown. Users can stop on their remote or in-person exploration, select a site to see the once mighty mills or splendor of the grand main streets and neighborhoods, and then witness the deterioration of the site, too often into an abandoned lot with encroaching woodlands. They may engage my project’s second component, choosing commentary by locals, activists, urban planners, scholars, etc., about the citizenry’s history, current predicament, and future possibilities. The third component is a new generation of interactive VR artwork that users can access on their personal devices portraying an imaginary post-prosperity city crafted from select imagery of industrial sites, downtowns, and neighborhoods. I chose these locales by following the migration of my Ukrainian grandparents, who were settled in the former mining town of Punxsutawney and followed short-term work to now disinvested cities before moving to Youngstown in 1967. Viewers can explore this thriving imaginary realism city and experience its time-lapsed deterioration to its current depopulated urban core and pastoral wards. Participants can select commentary illustrated by digital line drawings, visualizing a virtual reality for a potentially real future.