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Photographic Archives exhibit shows disappearing America

by Janene Zaccone, communications and marketing last modified Mar 23, 2012 12:21 PM

Author, photographer and former photographic curator Steven W. Plattner is no stranger to the University of Louisville Photographic Archives.

Photographic Archives exhibit shows disappearing America

El Pedorrero muffler shop, Whittier Boulevard, East Los Angeles, CA, January 2012

In the 1970s, he conducted research there using the Roy Stryker papers and Standard Oil (New Jersey) photos in the archives’ holdings.

Photographic Archives will open a guest exhibit of Plattner’s photographs on March 27. Titled “All Over the Map: Photographs across America, 2006-2012,” the photographs show people, places and objects Plattner finds to be extraordinary.

“So much of our built environment today is homogeneous, monotonous and quotidian. I gravitate instead toward subjects I consider exceptional—places, objects and people that evoke a unique vision and are steadily fading from view, often paved over and forgotten,” said Plattner, noting that the documentary photographs of the 20th century influenced his work.

“Out in the field, I often find myself remembering how one of the (Farm Security Administration) or Standard Oil photographers approached a place or subject, how they documented the significant details or built trust and rapport with people. My work would be very different had I not had the privilege of poring over Stryker’s papers and viewing tens of thousands of images at the Photographic Archives and the entire FSA photo file at the Library of Congress in the 1970s,” he said.

Plattner, who has written several books on documentary photography, will give a gallery talk at a Thursday, March 29, 5 p.m.-7 p.m. reception in Photographic Archives, lower level, east wing, Ekstrom Library. Exhibit hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through June 29. Admission is free.

The Photographic Archives is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Its holdings of 2 million documentary images and fine art prints provide a resource for scholars, media, authors and filmmakers, as well as inspiration for photographers and other artists.

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