Jennifer Stratton photographs, 2014-2015

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Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University) and Stratton, Jennifer Jacklin
This collection includes 23 photographic prints comprising the series Where We Live: A North Carolina Portrait. Photographs taken by Jennifer Jacklin Stratton throughout the state of North Carolina in 2014-2015.
23 item (1 box, 1 oversize folder)
Materials in English.
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Includes prints from Stratton's participation in the Where We Live project, inspired by Alex Harris's 1971-1972 North Carolina work. Collection contains 23 color photographs printed on Hahnemuhle “13 x 19” 320g Fine Art Pearl Photo Rag. The first 12 prints were intended for inclusion in the spring 2016 Where We Live: A Portrait of North Carolina exhibition at the Rubenstein Gallery. North Carolina counties represented include Halifax, Robeson, Sampson, Nash, and Cumberland. Stratton included the following text about her work:

"What we call the beginning is often the end. To make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start. -- T.S. Eliot In making these photographs I immersed myself in Alex Harris' original 1971-72 North Carolina work, and embraced his instinct to roam widely and to engage the people he met with his camera. At first this comprised of a lot of wandering through places I had never been and getting to know people along the way. It also included choosing the unpredictability of working with a 1960s medium format camera lacking a light meter and focusing mechanism – all attempts to sense what has changed in the past forty four years and what still lingers – both in photography and in the landscape. Since 1971, there are many more people, like myself, who now call North Carolina home. Between 2000 and 2010 alone, North Carolina gained almost 1.5 million residents. As I began to photograph, I kept stumbling across the statistic that the state has more factory-farmed hogs (10.1 million) than people (9.5 million). I wondered how has this significant population growth of both livestock and people impacted environmental resources, waste disposal and energy consumption throughout the state? I wanted to explore making photographs of something difficult to see: our biological need to live in a place with access to drinkable water, breathable air, healthy soil, an impulse that ultimately connects us all. In North Carolina there is a strong historical correlation between poverty and environmental degradation. In the late 1970’s midnight dumpers deliberately dripped PCBs in fourteen counties along more than two hundred miles of highway, leading to protests in Warren County that made national news. In 2014, I followed much the same route as this highway by photographing along the proposed path for the planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. I found several of the counties on this route have previous histories of environmental injustice. By photographing some of the people who live in these counties under daily environmental threats such as refuse dumping, expanding landfills, industrial animal farms, and coal ash, I sought to make personal and visible the complexities of shifting state-wide developments. Long-time residents continue to endure the emptying of downtowns and homes while bearing witness to the physical degradation of the air, water, and land around them. In this corridor of environmental injustice and socioeconmic disparities, the sustainability of family life for future generations is in question.

There is loss in the landscape, but also change and growth. I do not think it is possible to put into words all that I have gained bonding to place and people through making this work. This was an opportunity to engage with the diverse perspectives that exist within a singular place. As I entered neighborhoods a stranger with my camera, I was welcomed far more than I was turned away. I found my purpose in making these photographs was as Robert Adams writes, 'to try to be coherent about the intuition and hope' I had found."

Biographical / historical:

Jennifer Stratton is a documentary photographer, animator and educator. Her community-based work often explores in-depth relationships between individuals, cultures and the natural world. She has recently served as an instructor at Duke University Franklin Humanities Institute, Vision Workshops, and Platteforum's Art Lab in Denver, Colorado.

Acquisition information:
The Jennifer Stratton Photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in 2016.
Processing information:

Processed by Meghan Lyon, January 2016. Accessions included in this collection: 2016-0009

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
Stratton, Jennifer Jacklin
Harris, Alex, 1949-
North Carolina
North Carolina -- Pictorial works


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Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Jennifer Stratton Photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.