For the past ten years, Duke University undergraduates have been documenting Hillsborough, North Carolina, each spring as part of Small Town, USA, a course at the Center for Documentary Studies taught by Susie Post-Rust. Each student chooses a photography project to pursue within the town and spends the semester documenting that story.
Small Town, USA Pop-Up Exhibition and Presentations
Friday, April 29, 2016, 6 p.m. exhibition on King St. in front of the Hillsborough Courthouse; 7:30 and 8:15 p.m. presentations at the Hillsborough Presbyterian Church at 102 W. Tryon St.
Narrated student presentations and a pop-up exhibition of this year’s student photographs will be on view as part of Hillsborough’s “Last Friday” event on April 29, 2016. The exhibition will open at 6 p.m. in front of the Hillsborough Courthouse on King Street. Thirteen students will present their projects with narrated slideshows in two separate groups at 7:30 and 8:15 p.m. at the Hillsborough Presbyterian Church. Come early for free ice cream on the church lawn!
With our connections to and great admiration for the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia, we at the Center for Documentary Studies are looking forward to the annual event’s next installment, June 13–19. LOOK3 is about celebrating the vision of extraordinary photographers, igniting conversations about critical issues, and fostering the next generation of artists.
Photographers and educators at all stages of their careers won’t want to miss the festival’s expanded LOOK3 EDU program with career-advancing advice from industry leaders. The festival also is offering a number of opportunities for students, including scholarships for emerging photographers and a free event, “PDN 30 Emerging Photographers Panel: Strategies for Emerging Photographers,” to kick off their other educational offerings.
LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph
June 13–19, 2016
The Downtown Mall and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
Over the years, LOOK3 has featured members of the CDS family, such as CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography judges Mary Ellen Mark and Deborah Willis, Lange-Taylor Prize judge and 2015 Documentary Forum presenter Sylvia Plachy, and CDS award winners Ernesto Bazan, Danny Wilcox Frazier, and Donald Weber. In addition, Yolanda Cuomo, who has designed six of the seven First Book Prize in Photography winners’ books; Melissa Harris, this year’s Selection Panel Judge for the First Book Prize in Photography; and Deborah Willis, also a former Lehman Brady Chair Professor at CDS, currently serve on the festival’s Curatorial Advisory Board. (To expand on the idea of family: LOOK3 intern Gwen Dilworth is the niece of CDS’s publishing and awards director Alexa Dilworth, who has served as a portfolio reviewer for the festival in years past.)
This year’s line-up of artists and events promises to be as extraordinary as ever. Nick Brandt, Graciela Iturbide, Frans Lanting, Yuri Kozyrev, Olivia Bee, Sheila Pree Bright, Mary F. Calvert, Binh Danh, Doug DuBois, and Radcliffe “Ruddy” Roye will all be appearing on the Paramount stage. Exhibitions by each of the featured artists can be seen in pop-up galleries, on buildings, and even in the trees along Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. In addition, LOOK3 will have two outdoor Evening Projections, one on June 17 at the Charlottesville Pavilion with video essays curated by TIME magazine, and the other on June 18 produced by MediaStorm at the IX Art Park, with a Finale Party to follow. Not to be missed!
This year marks the twenty-sixth anniversary of the prestigious Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize, awarded by the Center for Documentary Studies. The $10,000 prize is given to encourage documentary work in the tradition of acclaimed photographer Lange and writer and social scientist Taylor, and supports documentary artists—working alone or in teams—whose existing, extended fieldwork projects rely on the interplay of words and images.
Submissions for the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize will be accepted from February 1 to
May 9, 2016. Deadline now extended to May 16! Entries must be submitted on May 16 before midnight (EST). See How to Enter and FAQ’s for more information.
Words may be represented by audio or in graphic novel format. Edited oral histories, creative narratives, and poetry (that is both personal and social) are also encouraged. Single artists and collaborative teams working with text/audio/photographs/video/graphic novel format may apply. There are no restrictions regarding age, nationality, or subject matter.
The winner receives $10,000, features in Center for Documentary Studies’ print and digital publications, and inclusion in the Archive of Documentary Arts at Rubenstein Library, Duke University. The winner will be publicly announced in September 2016.
A documentary photography project on housing and living conditions in the state—Where We Live: A North Carolina Portrait—features the 1971–72 work of acclaimed documentary photographer Alex Harris, a Duke professor and cofounder of the school’s Center for Documentary Studies, and contemporary work by three of his former students, all graduates of Duke’s MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program: Rachel Boillot, Jennifer Stratton, and Amanda Berg. On Thursday, April 28, there will be a reception and artists’ talk at the Rubenstein Photography Gallery on the Duke University campus, 4–7 p.m. (talks begin at 5:15 p.m.). Earlier that day, Harris and Boillot will be on the WUNC radio show The State of Things (live at noon with a rebroadcast at 8 p.m.).
Where We Live has its roots in an assignment of Harris’s from the 1970s, through a grant from Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, to photograph substandard housing and living conditions in North Carolina. In 2014, Harris turned to Berg, Boillot, and Stratton to tackle the same broad assignment, choosing their own visual, geographic, and thematic approaches. With funding from The Annenberg Foundation of Los Angeles, Berg made portraits of former factory workers, women whose jobs disappeared as textile, furniture, and tobacco factories closed across the state; Boillot photographed migrant workers who harvest Christmas trees and pick crops in the eastern and western parts of the state; and Stratton explored a group of counties whose low-income neighborhoods have experienced the greatest burden of environmental damage across generations.
Harris writes, “Our photographs are separated by forty-four years. By exhibiting our pictures at the Rubenstein Library gallery, we hope to show some of the ways in which the State of North Carolina has changed. Our different styles and approaches to photography also hint at how the practice of documentary photography has developed during this same period. But at least one thing remains constant. Photography then and now allows us to see the human dimensions of policy issues, to connect issues to individual lives and—if as photographers we have been successful—to see and feel something of our common humanity.”
The exhibition is sponsored by Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Forum for Scholars and Publics, MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program, and Sanford School of Public Policy. Project funding was provided by Anne Reynolds Forsyth, the Annenberg Foundation, and the Duke Council for the Arts. All photographs will be preserved in the Archive of Documentary Arts.
The Center for Documentary Studies and the Southern Documentary Fund are pleased to present a free screening of director Lisa Sorg’s A Sense of the Fitness of Things. (View trailer.) The film is presented as part of the Fresh Docs series featuring documentary works-in-progress; following the screenings, a moderated conversation with the filmmaker(s) will be held, during which the audience provides valuable feedback.
Note: Fresh Docs screenings are free, but attendees must RESERVE A TICKET via Eventbrite.
A Sense of the Fitness of Things
Friday, April 29, 7 p.m.
Full Frame Theater, American Tobacco Campus
320 Blackwell St., Durham, North Carolina
Don Byrne, his wife and two young children live on a rural Chatham County, North Carolina, farmstead without indoor plumbing or electricity. As part of his meditative life, Don handcrafts pine coffins: “When I set out to make a coffin, I try to donate one breath to the intention of making something that’s worthy of the person who will use it.” In the film, that person is ninety-year-old Sarah Overton Partridge, who is in the final stage of Alzheimer’s. Sarah’s daughter, Ann, struggles with the sadness of her mother’s decline but also welcomes her death as a release from suffering. As Don works to finish the coffin before Sarah’s death, both families confront the mystery and pain of impermanence.
Lisa Sorg is a journalist, editor, documentary filmmaker, and photographer. She earned a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from Indiana University in 1992 and a Certificate in Documentary Arts from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in 2010. While at CDS, she directed, produced, and edited three shorts: That Rockin’ Motion, The Pink House, and Winged Invasion, the latter of which screened at the Strange Beauty Film Festival and AliceFest. Since 1994, Sorg has won more than thirty awards for her work in news, features, public interest and investigative reporting, commentary, food, profile writing, and sports. She served as the editor of the INDY for eight years, and now writes for the hyperlocal news outlet, , plus The Durham News and Coastal Review Online. She is also a contributing editor at Our State magazine. Originally from Indiana, she has lived with her husband, Dennis, in Durham since 2006. In her “spare” time, she photographs weird scenes, items, and notes on the street, then features them on her blog, 36degreeslatitude.org.
In November 2015, a discussion with Marco Werman—Duke University alumni, journalist, and host of Public Radio International’s show, The World—and Alex Harris—Duke University professor, CDS co-founder, and acclaimed documentary photographer—took place at Duke’s Forum for Scholars and Publics. Together, the two looked back at Werman’s early work in journalism and documentary storytelling as an undergraduate student in Harris’s “American Communities” course, and explored how that experience shaped Werman’s approach to telling other people’s stories.
Watch the full discussion below.
The Julia Harper Day Award was created by the Center for Documentary Studies in 1992 in memory of the young woman who was CDS’s first staff member, a writer and photographer of real accomplishment. This $500 award goes to a graduating Duke University senior who has demonstrated excellence in documentary studies and contributed significantly to CDS programs. This year’s Julia Harper Day Award goes to Katie Jane Fernelius, a global culture studies major.
Katie is also graduating with a CDS Certificate in Documentary Studies, for which she completed a final project; rhapsody is her multimodal work that explores the question, Who is a citizen?, and the stakes of that question for different people around the world. For her project, Katie traveled to seven different cities around the world and interviewed individuals about love, community, and global citizenship. She wanted to pose the same questions she was asking in her critical theory classes to people who are often excluded from those conversations. For Katie, documentary work challenges her own conceptions of what is true and who gets to speak their own truths, and is a mode of inquiry that enhances her other intellectual pursuits, like literature and critical theory. After graduation, she plans to continue to write and produce audio documentary work.
Kelly Alexander, a CDS instructor, writes: “I have known Katie for three years. In that time I have come to respect a young woman who is a talented writer and a deeply curious student of the world. She is driven to document the stories of her subjects in a way that is respectful, authentic, and original. As a close supervisor of much of her work during these years, I have vetted her projects and helped her develop storytelling techniques across the genres of writing/reporting and online journalism. Throughout this time Katie has consistently personified the kind of engagement in documentary studies that John Grierson described when he coined the term for the field: She is interested in history, stories, responsibility and representation, and a focused study of the social and cultural forces that shape modern life. I particularly appreciate her engagement with women’s rights and youth activism in general.”
In addition to her success in the documentary field, Katie coordinated School Days, an annual program where three hundred local 8th graders who will be first generation college students visit Duke’s campus. She was also an editor of The Chronicle, Duke’s independent student newspaper, as well as coeditor-in-chief of The Archive, a literary magazine published each semester.
On May 1, six Duke University students graduating with a Certificate in Documentary Studies—a program that attracts undergraduates to the Center for Documentary Studies from across the arts and sciences—will present their final projects to the public and receive their certificates, followed by a celebratory BBQ. Under the guidance of Alex Harris and Nancy Kalow, the students completed their final projects in a Capstone Seminar as the culmination of their documentary studies classes.
Sunday, May 1
Project presentations: 2:30–5 p.m.
BBQ: 5 p.m. on
Center for Documentary Studies
1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, North Carolina
Additionally, an exhibit of the graduating seniors’ work entitled Beyond the Front Porch 2016 will be on view in the University Gallery at the Center for Documentary Studies beginning May 1 through October 1, 2016. Read bios of the students and descriptions of their projects here.
This summer, the Power Plant Gallery, an initiative of the Center for Documentary Studies and MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke University, inaugurates a residency program for individual artists and artist groups. Three separate one-month public studio residencies will be held in June, July, and August at the 1,500-square-foot gallery, located at the historic American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham.
A laboratory for documentary and experimental art practices, the Power Plant Gallery promotes creative work while engaging with audiences through the transformative power of the arts in society. In this spirit, the gallery will hold open hours Thursdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m.–6 p.m. during the summer residencies to foster public interest in the art-making process, not just the final product. Artists-in-residence will be encouraged to engage with the public during open hours, exploring the full relationship between artist and audience, and will have full access to the gallery space during the rest of the week.
Congratulations to the 2016 #PPGArtists:
June | William Paul Thomas
Mood Swings multimedia portrait series in two parts: TEEF: Good for the Soul (video) and Black & Blue (painting)
“In the midst of all the turmoil and rampant violence happening around the country, I think it is imperative that we all identify creative strategies to counter negative energy with life-affirming interventions. For the past two years, I have been collecting short audio clips from men recounting personal moments of happiness. I have recorded some of these men smiling as long as they can before it becomes unbearable. My goal is to compose a series of enigmatic and endearing living portraits that stitch together the lives of a diverse group of people using their own words.”
Accompanying the video project will be large portraits from the people Thomas encounters during the residency. The palette will consist of naturalistic tones transitioning to bluish monochromatic tones.
July | MJ Sharp
In Place (working title) archival photography project
“I have documented my family for thirty years and have published and shown many of those individual photographs over the years, but I have never before been struck by an idea to combine them into one art piece. My initial impulse, which may evolve as I get more deeply into it, is to find compelling images of similar vantage points over decades and combine them in such a way that they blend all the temporal realities portrayed in the pictures.”
August | qUest: Nina Be, Isabel Castellvi, Shaleigh Comerford, Catherine Howard, Stacy Kirby, and Madelyn Sovern
Meditations on Echos of Breath multimedia experience
“This artists’ collaborative project will be a series of dynamic and interactive ‘living canvases’ expressing the many aspects of breathing, and how breath affects and is affected by individual states of being within different environments. Meditative spaces and situations for artists and viewers will be intentionally created to support connection to that which is breathing, has ever breathed, and will breathe, as echoes that affect present reality. The ability to ‘focus and feel’ is the shared artistic theme with an underlying theme of ‘nontoxic’ nourishing breath being examined in reference to our work being housed in a ‘power plant.’”
The Center for Documentary Studies is offering nine summer learning opportunities in 2016 through our Continuing Education program. These intensive Summer Institute sessions, lasting from two to eight days, are open to the general public. Their completion counts as credit toward the Certificate in Documentary Arts for those students working toward a certificate. Registration is now open for the following classes; click links for course descriptions and to register:
Digging In: An Artists’ Retreat with Big Shed
Digital Publishing Institute
Documentary Video Institute
Hearing Is Believing: An Audio Documentary Institute
Intensive Introduction To Documentary Arts [Institute A – June] [Institute B – July]
Making It Sing: An Audio Documentary Institute
Master Class: Nonfiction Writing*
Portraits and Dreams: Literacy Through Photography
*The Master Class: Nonfiction Writing institute is currently full; add your name to the waitlist through the registration site link above.