An exhibition at the Center for Documentary Studies features thirty-eight color images by Ken Abbott, who photographed Hickory Nut Gap Farm over a period of five years. The site in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina includes an old inn—the “Big House”—and surrounding property, where five generations of one family have lived and worked the land.
Abbott will visit CDS on August 18 for a reception and artists’ talk; he will also be signing copies of a book by the same name.
Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Exhibit On View June 2–September 10, 2016
Thursday, August 18, 6–9 p.m.: Reception, Artist’s Talk, and Book Signing
Center for Documentary Studies
1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, North Carolina
Read more about the exhibition here.
For two weeks this month, Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) publishing and awards director Alexa Dilworth was guest curator for “Eyes on the South,” the Oxford American‘s weekly online photography series featuring current work from Southern artists or artists whose work concerns the South. She chose work by Lisa McCarty from Lumen, McCarty’s “ongoing experiment” involving handmade large-format cameras, and work by Kate Medley from Somewhere Else, which explores cultural differences in Southern common spaces such as produce stands and rural convenience stores.
McCarty received her MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts from Duke University and is curator of the school’s Archive of Documentary Arts. Medley travels the East Coast for Whole Foods, capturing stories of farms and producers who grow our food.
Put these dates on your calendar: the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival will host several free film screenings around the Triangle this summer. Third Friday screenings will take place at the Full Frame Theater in Durham, with additional screenings in Cary, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill as part of the Full Frame Road Show presented by PNC.
See screening details below, and learn more about the films on Full Frame’s website.
*Note that while screenings are free, all attendees must reserve a ticket via Eventbrite for each screening. Tickets available starting at 9 a.m. on the day of the event.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is a program of the Center for Documentary Studies.
In July 2016, CDS Continuing Education held the thirteenth annual Hearing Is Believing audio institute, a weeklong, immersive audio boot camp. 25 students from around the country were guided by CDS audio program director John Biewen and visiting instructor Shea Shackelford, with presentations by guest speakers Tina Antolini, creator of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy podcast, and John Barth of PRX. Students chose from a list of music- or audio-related topics; gathered interview and ambient sounds; and learned audio editing techniques to assemble short documentaries. The results are below.
Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray | Lesley Hoyt-Croft and Nicki Stein
Throughout the summer of 2016, this country has been reeling in the wake of social injustice. As racial tensions swell, is it possible that something as simple as a song could help bring Americans together? Gospel singer Mary D. Williams thinks so.
Derrick Ivey | Emily Alexander and Sally Hicks
When actor Derrick Ivey portrayed a Durham leader of the Ku Klux Klan, he had to figure out how to go to an angry and uncomfortable place. Here he talks about the personal impact of spewing hatred onstage night after night.
Girls Rock NC | Hillary Rea and Kathryn Wall
Girls Rock NC is a summer music camp that doesn’t hide being a feminist organization that embraces all gender identities. Ninety-five teens and tweens pick up drumsticks and guitars to learn chords and write songs, but they also participate in workshops on self-defense, body confidence, and zine-making. Adult volunteers kick off a loud and noisy week with the hope that their infectious passion for Girls Rock will go viral.
Hayti Sings the Blues | Paul Bieber and Jim Millay
It took ninety-five years to build a vibrant, self-sustaining community centered on church, music, and financial independence—a city within a city. It took a freeway project to destroy it.
Lorna’s Spiritual Journey | Keith Lawrence and Jonathan Stansell
It would have been easy for Lorna Collingridge to give up on the church, a place of both refuge and anguish. But doing so would have robbed her of the joy of its rituals and history. Besides, she felt she could change what troubled her about the church—if only a little bit—through her presence and her music.
Lorna composed all the music in this piece.
Oasis with a Train | Graham Prichard and Nikolas Silva
One evening a month during the summer, hundreds of people gather outdoors in Durham to listen to audio documentary pieces under the stars. Guided by a simple wish—to share good radio with friends—Jenny March and Elizabeth Friend have created a surprisingly popular series of summer happenings.
The People’s Orchestra | Carolyn Davenport and Zoe Grueskin
When Maya Jackson was a student at Durham’s Hillside High School in the 90s, the arts opened the door to the world beyond North Carolina. Today, she’s hoping music can open doors in her hometown and bring people together in a time of change.
Saints and Sinners | Robin Miniter and Ebonie Thomas
Saturday night sinners become Sunday morning saints each weekend in the South. In Durham, we hear from Marc Lee, radio host at the Juke Joint, and Reverend Larry Thomas at Union Baptist Church, about the tension that resides between bars and the blues, and gospel and grace.
Sharing the Stage | Nicolas Eilbaum and Nathan Ratner
For nearly twenty years, Brett Chambers’ open mic night has provided a place for musicians, poets, and other performers to share their talent with supportive and enthusiastic audiences. What has made this weekly Durham gathering a home to so many?
Show Up and Sing | Katie Brown and Nora Ritchie
Once a month, in a bar in Durham, Amelia Shull raises her conductor wand and 200 untrained voices respond in song. This PopUp Chorus performs hits that range from David Bowie to Michael Jackson—hits that just a few hours earlier the choristers may only have ever sung in the shower.
Whoopin’ It Up! | Christy Baugh and Marie Bongiovanni
Linda Cooper is a contra dance caller in the Triangle area of North Carolina. She’s passionate about the power of traditional dancing. And for thirty years she’s been bringing dancers and musicians together to “whoop it up!”
You Can’t Google a Guitar | Conrad Fulkerson and Ben LoCascio
For musicians, instruments often become extensions of themselves. This connection deepens when the instrument has been crafted, piece by piece, by their own hands. Luthier Ken Mitchell and his student, Knox Engler, recount their journey together to create a guitar.
The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (CDS) is hiring an Administrative Assistant to the Director who will be responsible for coordinating the daily logistics of CDS’s Director and performing a variety of administrative duties with wide latitude for exercising discretion and judgment. The Administrative Assistant must be able to manage multiple tasks simultaneously with accuracy, efficiency, good humor, and a highly developed interpersonal skill set. The position requires a minimum of two years of administrative experience in an academic, research, or corporate setting; working knowledge of the documentary arts preferred.
This is a full-time position with full Duke University benefits. Click here for a detailed job description and information on how to apply.
“I have long been interested in our culture’s ideas of beauty, happiness, and mental health—especially as they relate to women. Who decides who is ‘crazy’ and who is ‘sane’?”—CDS Documentary Essay Prizewinner Jessica Eve Rattner
For ten years, American photographer Jessica Eve Rattner has been creating an ongoing portrait of Lee, Rattner’s eighty-year-old neighbor in Berkeley, California. The essay “House of Charm” explores, with delicacy and respect, Lee’s story of aging alone. This powerful and singular body of work won Rattner the Center for Documentary Studies’ 2016 CDS Documentary Essay Prize in Photography, a competition that honors the best documentary photography and writing in alternate years. Rattner’s photo essay was chosen from nearly 220 entries to win the prize. She receives $3,000 and will be featured in Center for Documentary Studies’ print and digital publications.
Click here to learn more about Rattner’s winning essay.
Jessica Eve Rattner, a social worker by training, picked up a camera for the first time at the age of forty to photograph her family. Then she met Lee and began her first long-term documentary photography project. As Rattner writes, “Most people perceive Lee as ‘crazy,’ someone to be avoided. Few get close enough to learn that while she is indeed eccentric, she is also intelligent, well-read, charming, and self-assured. And perhaps most remarkably, that she has led the life she chooses to—a life for which she is neither apologetic nor ashamed.”
Two Honorable Mentions were awarded to Ofir Barak for “Mea Shearim” and Soohyun Kim for “Guryong Village in Seoul.” Shortlisted finalists included Jeremiah Ariaz, “Trail Riders”; Juan Arredondo, “Born into Conflict”; Jacobia Dahm, “Journey Through the Balkans”; Ayala Gazit, “ Was It a Dream”; Olga Ingurazova, “Wolf Story”; Michael Vince Kim, “The Koreans of Kazakhstan”; Cassandra Klos, “Mars on Earth”; Jiehao Su, “Borderland”; Ka-Man Tse, “Narrow Distances.”
The 2017 prize competition will be awarded for writing. Submissions will be accepted from November 1, 2016, to February 15, 2017. Click here for guidelines.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, a program of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, is hiring a Programming Coordinator, who will be responsible for development, implementation, and management of core components of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival’s Programming Department, including the submission process, the selection committee process, print traffic for all participating films, juries and awards, and key filmmaker and industry relationships.
This is a full-time position, with full Duke University benefits. Click here for a detailed job description and information on how to apply.
The Cassilhaus Travel Fellowship, made possible through a partnership between Cassilhaus, the Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts (MFA|EDA), and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, was created with the idea that travel can be transformative in the life of an emerging artist. The biennial $10,000 fellowship, funded by Ellen Cassilly and Frank Konhaus of Cassilhaus, supports recent Duke MFA|EDA graduates in their artistic research and practice for an eighteen-month period.
“We believe extended travel has a unique power to educate, enrich, and transform people and take them places far beyond the point they initially disembarked,” say Cassilly and Konhaus. “We feel fortunate to have the MFA|EDA and the Center for Documentary Studies as partners in this adventure.”
The recipient of the inaugural Cassilhaus Travel Fellowship is Alina Taalman (MFA|EDA ’15), who will travel to Estonia to “make a film that explores my Estonian family history, which has always been broken into fleeting narratives,” she writes. “Both of my parents have Estonian roots. My mother’s father sailed from Estonia at an early age and spent most of his adult life on the water, from the Baltic Sea to the Hudson Bay. Ship flags, nautical charts, and fragments of homesick letters have left us with just trace evidence of his experiences on the water. . . . My own father left Estonia on a boat for the United States many years later. . . . I am hoping to explore the Estonian islands, combining older forms of navigation used by my grandfather with modern mapping techniques.” Taalman will also use the travel grant to apply for multiple artist residencies in Estonia, including one on the island of Muhu and one in the printing museum in Tartu. In addition, she plans to spend time on the island of Saaremaa, where her great-grandfather was a writer, teacher, and photographer.
Taalman’s fellowship will begin in August 2016 and will culminate with a public presentation in Durham in spring 2018. Guidelines for the next Cassilhaus Travel Fellowship competition will be available in spring 2018.
Visit the MFA|EDA blog, Viewfinder, for more information.
A message from the Continuing Education program (#CDSCourses) at the Center for Documentary Studies, which offers classes year-round in photography, video, audio, narrative writing, and other creative media.:
Fall 2016 courses are now open! Go to our registration page and click on “All Courses (A-Z)” to see a full list, or consult the Timetable of Current Courses for a schedule. We’ve readied more than a dozen brand-new courses, including two that will start in the summer: Documenting Appalachia, an online photography class taught by Roger May, and a class on installations, taught by Mendal Polish, that will culminate in a group show in Durham.
And now that the spring term is over, we’re gearing up for an energizing summer of weeklong institutes. They’re quickly filling up, but most still have spaces available, including a second section of the Master Class in Nonfiction Writing, which we opened in response to high demand. It will take place in late August.
Please email us with any questions you may have: firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you have a wonderful summer!
Continuing Education Coordinator
Continuing Education Director
In late June, during the final week of the Duke-in-Berlin summer program, students, faculty, and local Berliners spilled out onto the sidewalk outside of the gallery tête, an innovative art space in the Prenzlauer Berg district of the city. Inside, a pop-up exhibition by eight undergraduates in a documentary photography course featured prints of their projects from the six-week program. Offered for the first time in summer 2016, the course DOCST 271S—Capturing the City: Documentary Photography in Berlin—pushed students to immerse themselves fully in one of Europe’s most dynamic capital cities. (Watch a short video of the pop-up exhibition opening; iPhone video, Christopher Sims.)
“Like our other Duke-in-Berlin courses, we really conceive of the city as our ‘classroom.’ Because Berlin has so much to offer—from galleries, museums, an incredible variety of neighborhoods, and, of course, an endless range of historically-significant sites—we were rarely in our regular classroom sitting at desks,” said course instructor Christopher Sims, the undergraduate education director at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies.
The students’ projects explored scenes of cultural life, public spaces, landscapes, and people in Berlin. Project fieldwork sites included the U-Bahn—Berlin’s subway system—as well as Tempelhof airfield, a Nazi-era airport made famous during the 1948–1949 Berlin Airlift that is now a public park and a reception center for refugees. Students also wrote fictional short stories based on vintage photographs purchased at Berlin flea markets and met with Berlin-based documentary photographers and writers.
“The highlight was definitely the pop-up exhibition at the end of the course,” said Katlyn Walther, an undergraduate from Harlingen, Texas, who will be continuing with the Duke-in-Berlin program in the fall. “It is one thing to view work on a laptop screen, but it is a different experience to step into a space showcasing the culmination of hard work and artistry by my peers and I.”
A version of the exhibition will be on view this fall at the Center for Documentary Studies, with work by Rachel Corr, Dai Li, Ellen Liew, Barbara McHugh, Iliana Sun, Genevieve Valladao, Katlyn Walther, Wenqin Wang, as well as Deanna White, who worked with Christopher Sims this summer in Berlin through an independent study as part of her Program II major.
The class and exhibition were supported by Duke University’s Duke-in-Berlin program, German Department, Center for Documentary Studies, as well as The Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation Endowment Fund. Deanna White’s independent study was supported by the Center for International Studies Undergraduate Summer Overseas Travel Research Award and her senior year research work with Christopher Sims was also supported by funding through Humanities Writ Large. The Duke-in-Berlin summer program is offered through Global Education for Undergraduates; the program director is Susanne Freytag, the academic director is Jakob Norberg, and the resident director is Jochen Wohlfeil. DOCST 271S—Capturing the City: Documentary Photography in Berlin—is cross-listed with GERMAN, ARTVIS, and VMS.