Each week, we profile a contributor from the Untapped Cities team. Up this week is Rachel Alban, a photographer and writer who documents street art and other city secrets in New York City for Untapped.
What’s your favorite Untapped spot in your city?
A butterfly garden in Marine Park, Brooklyn. In the summer, during the peak of butterfly season, it is magical!
Favorite pieces you’ve written for Untapped:
What’s your “day job”?
I practice Art Therapy and Art Education with various high-needs populations. I graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Art Education and MPS in Art Therapy. Art and trauma has become my primary focus, and I have worked with at-risk adolescents, homeless children and families, and people effected by disasters including the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Presently, I work with survivors of Hurricane Sandy.
What’s the most memorable thing that happened while contributing to Untapped Cities?
During our 5 Pointz Tour we got to go on the roof of the building. As a lover of street art and graffiti culture, that was a very special experience for me, especially given that this amazing place may not be around for much longer in the future.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned as a contributor?
I have been a passionate photographer since childhood, but this has been the first time I have ventured into any sort of reportage or editorial work. This has challenged me to work towards creating emotionally compelling images that tell a story. The experience has been wonderful!
Where do you want to visit next?
Israel! It has been many years since I have been there, and I long to become immersed in the art, culture, nature, and spend time with some of my best friends. It is also my dream to someday swim with piggies in the Bahamas.
What’s your favorite obscure fact about your city?
In Central Park, there is a survey bolt from when the city grid was first planned in 1811, and I know where it is!
Best Celebrity Sighting:
The writer Salman Rushdie and I were both walking dogs one early morning on Lexington Avenue. Our dogs stopped to say hello, and he described my chihuahua as a “magnificent creature”.
What are some of your favorite websites?
I have many interests including art and culture, nature, vegan cooking, animal rescue and welfare, music, and this beloved city. So, here are just a few of the many websites which inform and inspire me: brooklynstreetart.com, https://www.at149st.com/, brooklynvegan.com, thejealouscurator.com, art-nerd/newyork.com, https://davidduchemin.com/, https://vegnews.com/, National Geographic, NY Magazine, and curbed.com.
Learn more about joining the Untapped Cities community and our internship opportunities here.