“Before we started, I knew next to nothing about the Black Belt region,” admitted Kasandra Boor, a psych major and studio art minor. Boor, with five other students and associate professor of photography Chris Jordan, has been preparing this week for a research trip to Camden, Ala., where the group will photograph and interview artists who live in the Black Belt.Students practice portrait photos on Dr. Lucy Curzon in her Garland Hall office.

The class has spent this week training and studying in preparation for work in the field next week, where they will take portrait photographs of artists, many of whom grew up in the region. The students will also interview and taking oral histories of the artists.

Students have been reviewing photography basics and learning techniques of studio lighting and other skills they will put into practice next week. They have practiced by taking portrait photos of two art faculty members, learning to set up lighting equipment, build a photo and use artificial and natural light. They’ve also been learning more about the Black Belt region itself, reading about some of its history, as well as researching the artists they will be photographing and interviewing.

“What I enjoyed most about this week is our discussions about how to respect cultural differences and agency. Basically, it is how to best tell accurate stories and respect how you are presenting information about others. I am very excited to keep learning throughout the next two weeks!” said Boor.

Students practice portrait photos on Associate Professor Bill Dooley in his Woods Hall studio.This is the second group of students Jordan has brought to the area this year. These students range in experience from experienced photographers to novices, and not all are art majors. “I’m thrilled to be working with a group of students with a wide range of backgrounds,” Jordan said.

The students are Kasandra Boor, psychology major, studio art minor; Aleiah Briggs, studio art major; Sarah Cheshire, MFA student in creative writing; Sam MacDonald, BFA major in photography and digital media; Gordon MacNeil, retired UA professor of social work; and Maddy O’Connor, studio art major.

Maddy O’Connor, who lives in Florida, said she is looking forward to the adventure. “I have learned so much over this past week, and I feel prepared for the week to come. I have never visited the Black Belt region before, and I’ve always wanted to explore it. I feel like this will be such a positive learning experience for me, and I can’t wait to meet all of the local artists.”

Follow the Black Belt Artist Project on Instagram or Facebook and check out our growing photo page: https://art.ua.edu/news/black-belt-artist-project-daily-photos/

The Black Belt Artist Project is a collaborative initiative between the UA department of art and art history, Associate Professor Chris Jordan and students load photographic equipment into the car before their trip to Wilcox County, Ala.the non-profit Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center and Canon Solutions America. A book, exhibition and archive of the materials will be produced from the oral histories recorded and portraits created by the students.

Photo captions and credits:

(top) Students practice portrait photos on Dr. Lucy Curzon in her Garland Hall office. [1-LUCY-CURZON.jpg]
(middle) Students practice portrait photos on Associate Professor Bill Dooley in his Woods Hall studio. [2-BILL-DOOLEY.jpg]
(bottom) Associate Professor Chris Jordan and students load photographic equipment into the car before their trip to Wilcox County, Ala. [4-1MonLOADING.jpeg]

For more information about the Black Belt Artist Project, contact Associate Professor Chris Jordan at (205) 348-1217 or Rachel Dobson, communications specialist, at (205) 348-1893. 

For information about the UA Department of Art and Art History and its programs, visit our website: https://art.ua.edu/academics/or contact the department at (205) 348-5967.