Students' Pics of Small Town Life in Exhibit

Southern Illinois University

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Small Town Documentary Exhibit

November 25, 2016

The goal of the Small Town Documentary course has been to collaborate with southern Illinoisans in a photographic examination of specific towns. The towns are chosen and photographed by individual students who create a portfolio of images collected over four months. The students also present their town with a portfolio of prints at the conclusion of the class. This exhibition is representative of their work to date. 

Transitions within and, in many cases, decline of Mid-western small town populations have been studied for decades. Statistics and studies have been used to measure the fading and occasional rebirth of communities.  These 20 graduate and undergraduate students committed in August, 2016 to add to the dialogue by making their photographs part of the visual records of their towns. 

2016 is the tenth iteration of the course. (The previous courses were held in 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014.) In this 20th anniversary year, the 2016 students have shared their experiences and hundreds of prints with myself, Teaching Assistant Andrew Calise and many others through our Flickr anthology.

Small Town Documentary continues to be a most unique and enriching teaching experience as I watch students evolve as photographers. I thank them all for continuing my education about southern Illinois culture, human nature and the benefits to be found in watching people learn about lives beyond their own. 

The students and I sincerely appreciate the assistance from the Department of Cinema and Photography and the School of Journalism in making this exhibition possible. 

Finally, and most importantly, the students and I would like to thank the numerous townspeople who, with their energy, pride and knowledge, have helped create this ongoing collection.

Daniel Overturf, Professor, Department of Cinema and Photography, November 24, 2016

Please view the Small Town Documentary 2016 Poster