Photo submissions for the Galesburg Portrait Project are now closed.
I wanted to take a moment to thank all the people I talked to, including those who decided not to submit photos. Getting to know Galesburg over to last several months has been really interesting. I feel like I'm on a first name basis with half the town.
I especially wanted to thank those who submitted pictures. I have just under 340 pictures for about 300 panels. I have no hard and fast rules about sorting the through the final edits but here's a bit of what I think about.
The editing process
Sometimes edits were made for technical reasons; some images submitted are so small that they would have become unrecognizable at painting size. This is particularly true for images that from Facebook; Facebook processes images as you upload them so that they are small and efficient for the screen. Screens need a quarter of the data that print needs. Further, I typically needed to enlarge images to get head shots at the right size. There's more... but I can tell that you are going to sleep already.
In other instances it appeared to me that I had thorough representation from the particular community. For example, if you were a Knox student and submitted in September, there's a very high likelihood that your photo got included because I needed mages to get started. Later submissions from Knox, as I began to have to get more images for the project as a whole, got more scrutiny. I didn't want Knox students over represented.
Kinds of submissions affected what Iincluded as well. And I confess that as a 60 something college professor myself, my prejudices came into play. If a college student sent a photo vamping in their Halloween costume. Ixnay! Parents will think that it's fun, that's enough. (My 20 something was the spitting image of Bob the Baker; I can't imagine that any one else was interested. I should edit this sentence out.)
To the best of my ability, in consultation with people who are rooted in the community, I've tried to get members of various Galesburg communities in numbers that are high enough numbers so that even if you don't see yourself, you will see yourself in your part of this community represented by this project.
Finally, I am including a handful of mirrored panels so that current residents of Galesburg will see themselves in the middle of their neighbors —It also enables the girls to get a quick check of their makeup— Future generations will be able to see themselves in the context of their town's history. My last portrait project was for a church in Chicago. It also included mirrors. People tell me that new members take selfies in those mirrors as a way of identifying with the community. That's what I hope for here, too, especially if I had to edit out your submission.
The entire piece will be completed early in 2016. I'll send an email blast and inform the papers regarding the opening and my talk about the project sometime in February. In the meantime you wlll be able to see the first 200+ panels in the lobby of the Box on Kellogg at Simmons.
I'm heading back to Chicago with the unfinished panels. There will be more news in further posts as I continue work. Eventually there will be some kind of online presence for the project that includes individual images, email conversations that accompanied the images and a way for you to contribute more information and share with your friends and neighbors.