Seeing Lewiston

Seeing Lewiston

Images from Visual Narratives: The City, Ethnography, and Cultural Politics

May 22 – 30, 2013




The exhibition Seeing Lewiston is the culminating visual project for Visual Narratives: The City, Ethnography, and Cultural Politics, a Bates College short- term course taught by Myron M. Beasley and Dan Mils which focused on creating visual narratives of the city of Lewiston.

Situated as a visual methods research course, Visual Narratives built on theories of urban studies, critical ethnography and the cultural politics surrounding the photographic documentation of people performing everyday life in the context of the city of Lewiston. Particular attention was given to the development of photography both as a mode of representing a culture and as a site of cultural practice. During the first two weeks the students engaged with the theoretical and history, they attended lectures, toured the city, and looked at photographs in the Museum of Art collection. During the third week, they were joined by noted photographer Chester Higgins, Jr., who is known for his narratives of cities through portraiture, and provided students with practical instruction and guidance of understanding visual narratives of the city.

The students returned to downtown Lewiston repeatedly, developed ideas for their photographic essay on a topic of their interest, kept journals and created a portfolio of twelve images. Their subjects included the people of Lewiston, the importance of community, history of the mills and the people who worked in them, the prevalence of textiles in people’s lives, houses of worship, reflections, Kennedy Park, industrial decay and renewal, buildings and their inhabitants, the past and present, Little Canada, and Lisbon Street. This powerful exhibition includes three images selected from each students’ portfolio. Each wrote a paper, and also a brief statement, which is printed on a flyer that accompanies the exhibition.

We would like to thank guest lecturers Professor Mary Rice-Defosse, James Myll, Director of the Franco-American Archives, USM-LA, our community partner, Kimball Street Studios: Kevin Callahan, Mary Callahan, and Fred Hatch, and Teaching Assistant Allana Prince.

Seeing Lewiston was made possible with the generous support of African American and American Cultural Studies, The Bates Museum of Art, Harward Center, Learning Associates Program, and a PEAP Grant.

Myron M. Beasley, and Dan Mills