Terence Byrnes, chair of the Department of English at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, will present a slide lecture titled "The Springfield Project" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, in Bayley Auditorium of Wittenberg University's Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center (NOTE: This is a change from original location - Kissell Auditorium in Koch Hall). Byrnes is a self-taught photographer who took thousands of pictures in Springfield from 1966 through 2006 in an effort to depict the reality of living in a midwestern American city that was once a prosperous industrial capital.
A selection of Byrnes' photographs will be on display from Jan. 19 through Feb. 20 in the Ann Miller Gallery in Koch Hall. He has visited Springfield almost annually over the last 40 years to photograph and observe the former "industrial capital on the National Road." By the 1990s he began taking serious photographs along Main Street.
"These images are the result of collaborations with the subjects," Byrnes writes on his Web site. "Some of the people I photographed thought I might be mad, spending 12 hours a day on the street in southern Ohio summer weather, introducing myself to strangers...Fortunately for me, their suspicion was almost always alloyed with hospitality that eventually became trust. For this, and for their generosity in allowing me to enter their lives, I'm deeply grateful."
Byrnes, who has a bachelor's degree in English from Antioch College in nearby Yellow Springs, Ohio, and also completed coursework at Wright State University in Dayton in the early 1970s before earning a master's from Concordia, lists his research and teaching interests as short stories, ghostwriting and photography. He has written two fiction books and has been published many times in Matrix, Quebec's longest-running and most successful literary journal.
In addition to his Witt Series appointment as writer and visual artist in residence at Wittenberg in February, Byrnes is conducting follow-up research on his book Closer to Home: the Author and the Author Portrait, and he is working on a memoir titled Father Gun, which "examines aspects of the legacy of the Second World War within my family, and what might be called 'gun culture'."
In addition to the Witt Series event, Byrnes will speak to Wittenberg students in art, creative writing and English classes, and he will present an English Department colloquium at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17. His visit to Wittenberg is co-sponsored by the Thomas Art Endowment Fund.
The Witt Series is a selection of cultural activities annually presented by Wittenberg University. All Series events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Jeannine Fox, Series coordinator, at (937) 327-7470 or via e-mail.
Written By: Phyllis Eberts
Photo By: Erin Pence
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