I have photographed several documentary projects, some with the support of grants or commissions.
1976 – The Bicentennial
The United States celebrated its bicentennial in 1976. In a burst of patriotism; flags, bunting, and colonial costumes appeared everywhere. In retrospect, there was an innocence about this celebrating that can never be reclaimed after our more recent eruptions of national violence.
I grew up on the Mesabi Iron Range in Northern Minnesota and in 1983 completed work with a grant from the Minnesota Private College Research Foundation to document the changing face of the Western Mesabi. During the 1940s, the Mesabi Range had provided the iron that fueled the war machinery of WWII. By the 1970s and 80s, abandoned pits dotted the Mesabi and its small towns were in decline. This project resulted in an exhibition called Strata that was shown in numerous venues on the Range and other places in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
While teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, I worked as the lead photographer on a project to document immigrant architecture of the Head of the Lakes region resulting in a small publication called Beginning Again, which was distributed to schools in the area. My work on this project expanded into documenting other remnants of Finnish building and culture – that of my growing up years. Some of this work was later incorporated into the book and exhibit, Dovetailed Corners. Another project followed of recording and photographing a number of Finnish-Americans who had made significant contributions to Finnish-American culture, done with a grant from University of Wisconsin System Institute on Race and Ethnicity.