Just as the Farm Security Administration sent photographers to cover the Great Depression, a collective called Facing Change: Documenting America has enlisted artists—including two Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers—to record America’s current struggles. An exhibition of their work opened on Friday, March 2, 2012 and ran through Saturday, June 16, 2012 in the Underground Gallery at The Sanctuary for Independent Media.
You can read about Facing Change: Documenting America in this Washington Post article.
The exhibit was open to the public free of charge from 11 AM-1 PM on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, as well as an hour before, during and an hour after events at The Sanctuary for Independent Media and by special arrangement.
On Saturday, March 3 from 12-4 PM, Facing Change photographers Alan Chin, Brenda Ann Kenneally and Andrew Lichtenstein led a seminar at The Sanctuary for Independent Media as part of the Be The Media! workshop series. Participants learned how to use their cameras to raise social awareness, expand public debate, and frame critical issues, working with experienced photojournalists who have dedicated their lives to the belief that the personal is always political.
At 5 PM on Saturday, March 3, there was a free gallery walk-through with Facing Change photographers Brenda Ann Kenneally, Alan Chin and Andrew Lichtenstein, followed by a community potluck.
Facing Change: Documenting America is a non-profit collective of writers and photojournalists dedicated to covering the vast array of challenges facing Americans. Founded in 2009 by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers Lucian Perkins, formerly a photographer for the Washington Post, and Anthony Suau, formerly a contract photographer for Time magazine, FCDA aims to pay tribute to and continue the work started by the Depression-era photojournalists. FCDA has just announced a partnership with the Library of Congress to archive and publish these new photographs.
At a time when America faces enormous challenges, FCDA is sending photographers to communities across America to vividly illustrate the nation’s most pressing concerns-from health care to immigration to the cost of the war on terror. The results are an unparalleled collection of visual narratives accessible through an innovative online platform–called the Public Sphere–enabling direct dialogue with America on stories and issues. FCDA images are distributed via an active and searchable archive, called PhotoShelter, to newspapers and magazines worldwide.
As media outlets yield to corporate considerations, they have narrowed their coverage of vital issues. FCDA is filling that gap by humanizing a wide spectrum of neglected and misunderstood issues. For example, one team will follow veterans as they reintegrate into civilian life. Another will explore the current economic crisis and the decades-long downturn in the Rust Belt. Others will focus on forgotten corners like Hereford, Texas; Fayette, Mississippi, and Allen, South Dakota-places that rarely draw the nation’s attention.
To highlight these issues, FCDA has created an online “Public Sphere”, an interactive platform that hosts stories, images and multi-media pieces created by the teams. These stories are searchable through a series of issue-related US maps linking the public to FCDA photographers and writers, community nonprofits and individuals via active blogs, and comments sections. Fostering dialogue, the Public Sphere will empower communities and individuals to suggest story ideas as well as connect, and initiate solutions.
As the communications director at Detroit’s Gleaners Community Food Bank Anne Schenk recently stated:
“Many nonprofits lack the experience and resources to effectively communicate the value and impact of their work. I believe that Facing Change: Documenting America can provide an invaluable service to nonprofits.”
Drawing on the collective’s extensive network of media contacts, FCDA’s images, stories, and multimedia pieces are searchable online for use in both traditional and new media. In the future the Public Sphere will be expanded in the form of interactive installations traveling to towns and cities throughout the nation to reach audiences beyond the internet. The archive will reside at the Library of Congress.
Inspired by the Farm Security Administration photography project of the Great Depression FCDA is comprised of some of the country’s most accomplished photographers and writers. Facing Change: Documenting America is currently making a powerful contribution to the journalism landscape, giving a voice to new perspectives and influencing public discourse. Initially planned for four years, the project has the potential to be continued for years to come.