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Photos From Home - Michael Forster Rothbart, Danny Wilcox Frazier, Scott Strazzante - <span class="date-display-single">10/19/2014 - 11:00am</span>

Photos From Home

10/19/2014 - 11:00am

Overture Center for the Arts - Promenade Hall

Documentary photographers, Michael Forster Rothbart, Scott Strazzante, and Danny Wilcox Frazier, each discuss and show photos from their books, all of which explore questions of home and how people's lives change when the home/land changes.

Forster Rothbart will discuss Would You Stay?:

The devastating nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl scattered radioactive fallout across 30 countries in Europe. Yet in the regions with worst contamination, the vast majority of people stayed, despite the potential danger. A generation later, after the 2011 tsunami triggered disaster in a power plant that’s still leaking nuclear waste, the people of Fukushima, Japan, are confronting the same impossible questions about about safety, security, and their future.  In Would You Stay?, photojournalist Michael Forster Rothbart tries to understand why people refuse to leave Chernobyl and Fukushima despite the risks. With Forster Rothbart’s personal narrative as guide, this stunning and provocative book blends photos, interviews, maps, and audio recordings to help us weigh the true value of home. In the end, Forster Rothbart and the reader both confront the ultimate question: Would you stay?



Scott Strazzante will discuss Common Ground:

The book Common Ground will be a high-quality hundred-page book about Illinois farmers  Harlow and Jean Cagwin, and the transformation of their family farmer into a suburban neighborhood. The book contains nearly fifty diptych pairings contrasting farm life and suburban life, masterfully chosen and sequenced by world-renowned editor  Mike Davis, with a foreword by 2013 International Center of Photography Infinity Prize winner  David Guttenfelder, who grew up among the farm fields of rural Iowa. Common Ground, a nearly two-decade long ongoing personal project, has graced the pages of the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine, Mother Jones and National Geographic. In 2008, MediaStorm published a multimedia piece on Scott Strazzante’s personal project that debuted at the Look3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Danny Wilcox Frazier will discuss Driftless: Photographs From Iowa:

In Driftless, Danny Wilcox Frazier’s dramatic black-and-white photographs portray a changing Midwest of vanishing towns and transformed landscapes. As rural economies fail, people, resources, and services are migrating to the coasts and cities, as though the heart of America were being emptied. Frazier’s arresting photographs take us into Iowa’s abandoned places and illuminate the lives of those people who stay behind and continue to live there: young people at leisure, fishermen on the Mississippi, veterans on Memorial Day, Amish women playing cards, as well as more recent arrivals: Lubavitcher Hasidic Jews at prayer, Latinos at work in the fields. Frazier’s camera finds these newcomers while it also captures activities that seemingly have gone on forever: harvesting and hunting, celebrating and socializing, praying and surviving.  This collection of photographs is a portrait of contemporary rural Iowa, but it is also more that that. It shows what is happening in many rural and out-of-the-way communities all over the United States, where people find ways to get by in the wake of closing factories and the demise of family farms. Taken by a true insider who has lived in Iowa his entire life, Frazier’s photographs are rich in emotion and give expression to the hopes and desires of the people who remain, whose needs and wants are complicated by the economic realities remaking rural America. Poetic and dark but illuminated with flashes of insight, Frazier’s stunning images evoke the brilliance of Robert Frank’s The Americans.


Michael Forster Rothbart

About Presenter Michael Forster Rothbart


At 17, Michael Forster Rothbart joined and photographed the Icewalk North Pole expedition.  Forster Rothbart graduated from Swarthmore College in 1994 and decided to become a documentary photographer in 1996, when traveling in India. He saw a World Bank-financed dam on the Narmada River in Gujarat and found that local activist's views and community impact was undocumented.  He has worked as a staff photographer for the University of Wisconsin and an Associated Press photographer in Central Asia. Other projects include documenting the effects of hydrofracking and USAID's programs in Central Asia.  He teaches photography at SUNY Oneonta.  After receiving a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship, in 2007 Forster Rothbart interviewed and photographed residents in and around Chernobyl. For two years, he lived in Sukachi, Ukraine, a small farming village just outside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and also spent time in Slavutych, Ukraine, the city built after the accident to house evacuated Chernobyl plant personnel.  


In 2012, he launched a parallel project in Fukushima, Japan. He has started photographing nuclear plant workers, refugees and returning residents over a period of years.  An online version of the exhibit was published October 21, 2013, by TED Books. Entitled “Would You Stay?”, it features personal narrative, photos, interviews, maps and audio recordings in an attempt to understand why people refuse to leave Chernobyl and Fukushima despite the risks.  The National Press Photographers Association’s Best Of Photojournalism 2014 competition awarded “Would You Stay?” first place in the Multimedia Tablet/Mobile category, third place for Best Use of Multimedia and an honorable mention in the Contemporary Issues category.


Would You Stay?

Danny Wilcox Frazier

About Presenter Danny Wilcox Frazier


Danny Wilcox Frazier, a freelance photographer and filmmaker, grew up in Le Claire, Iowa, and has a master’s degree from the University of Iowa. He has photographed across his home state for the past six years, and his assignments have taken him all over the world. Frazier has received grants and prizes from the Aftermath Project, Humanities Iowa, POYi, the National Press Photographers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, and Chinese International Press Photo. He is also a two-time finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Grant. Frazier’s images have appeared in such publications as the New York TimesTimeNewsweekLifeFortuneU.S. News & World Report, andForbes, and he is a contributing photographer for Mother Jones and CR magazine.


Danny Wilcox Frazier’s work was selected from four hundred entries to win the third biennial CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography competition. Driftless: Photographs from Iowa was a New York Photo Award finalist for Best Photography Book of the year and was also selected for an exhibition of the year’s Best Photography Books curated by the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville. The book was featured in photo-eye, Photo District News, and Dukemagazine, and Mother Jones ran a major feature of Frazier’s Driftless photographs (“American Heartland”) in its March/April issue. A photograph from the book also appeared in the Times Literary Supplement. Photographs from his book Driftless have been exhibited and screened widely, and in 2010, Frazier’s film version of Driftless, produced by MediaStorm’s Brian Storm, won a Webby Award and was nominated for an Emmy Award in the New Approaches to News & Documentary Programming: Current News Coverage category. He is a member of the non-profit collective Facing Change: Documenting America.


Driftless: Photographs From Iowa

Scott Strazzante

About Presenter Scott Strazzante


Scott Strazzante was born and raised in the shadows of the steel mills on the far southeast corner of Chicago.  The son of a tire dealer, Strazzante first became interested in photography when as a teen he started taking his dad’s camera to Chicago White Sox baseball games.  Shortly after graduating from Ripon College in 1986, Strazzante started his career at The Daily Calumet. The next year, he began an 11-year run at The Daily Southtown in Tinley Park, IL.  In 1998, Strazzante moved on to the Joliet (IL) Herald News where, in 2000, he was named National Newspaper Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association and the Missouri School of Journalism.


Before arriving in San Francisco, Strazzante spent the past 13 years as a member of the Chicago Tribune photo staff.  Strazzante, an 11-time Illinois Photographer of the Year, has covered the Super Bowl, the World Series and three Olympic Games, but he is more proud of his work that uncovers small but universal moments in daily life. Strazzante was a part of the Chicago Tribune team that won a Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting in 2007 for a series about faulty government regulation of dangerously defective toys, cribs and car seats.


Also in 2007, Strazzante’s personal project “Common Ground” was honored with the POYi Community Awareness Award and 1st Place Feature video in the National Press Photographer Association’s Best of Photojournalism.  In 2013, Strazzante’s blog- “Shooting From the Hip” was honored with 1st Place in the Visual Column category of the National Press Photographer Association’s Best of Photojournalism contest.


Common Ground

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