Students capture communities’ spirit through photographs

SIU News

Documenting small towns – Dan Overturf, center, reviews work with students in his biennial Small Town Documentary class. An exhibit that showcases the work of eight students starts Nov. 29 in the Communications Building on campus. (Photo by Russell Bailey)

November 16, 2018
Students capture communities’ spirit through photographs
by Pete Rosenbery
CARBONDALE, Ill. — A photo exhibit months in the making introduced Southern Illinois University Carbondale photography students to local communities. Their work goes on display later this month.
Eight students in Dan Overturf’s biennial Small Town Documentary class have spent the fall semester chronicling communities in the region. The exhibit starts Nov. 29 and runs through Dec. 3, with photographs on display in the north wing of the Communications Building in the area of the cinema and photography department and School of Journalism.
An opening reception is from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Nov. 29. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.
Compelling stories and powerful connections
In a recent class, students were recounting recent experiences while they documented various Halloween events, the 2018 general election and Veterans Day commemorations.
Alex Rodriguez, a senior in cinema and photography from Lakemoor, said Tamms has embraced him and that he has similar affections for the village. Other students in the class shared similar sentiments about people they have met and photographed.
“I noticed how kind and genuine all these people in this town are,” he said. “If you talk to them enough and you hear their stories and you tell your stories, you start to open up.” 
Rodriguez teared up when discussing stories behind some of his photos. While some may believe the village has fallen on hard times, particularly with the closure of the Tamms Correctional Center in 2013, Rodriguez senses future growth and the commitment of village President Tonya Reid.
“She’s looking to regrow her town,” he said. “I can just see the …

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