Loras College is pleased to announce that the “City at Work: 1912 and 2012” photography project has received $10,000 in funding from the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.
In spring 1912, an itinerant photographer spent two weeks in Dubuque photographing workers in factories, offices, shops, and even the operating room of a hospital. He worked with a large format camera, making over 400 extraordinary, high-quality black and white photographs documenting the occupational lives of Dubuque residents. Today 330 of the glass plate negatives are preserved in the Loras College Center for Dubuque History. Taken together, this collection (the Klauer Collection) tells the story of working class people in Dubuque, including women and children, at the beginning of the 20th century.
Last year, Tim Olson, a Dubuque artist and photographer, approached Michael Gibson
, archivist at the Center for Dubuque History, to develop a project to mark the 100th anniversary of the Klauer Collection. The first two phases of this project are already underway: phase one--cleaning and scanning the 1912 plates; and phase two--recreating the 1912 photo shoot in 2012 with the same type of equipment, allowing the viewer to look at the two time periods literally through the same lens. These first two phases are supported by the State Historical Society HRDP program (phase one), the Iowa Arts Council, Humanities Iowa grant (phase two), Dubuque Old House Enthusiasts, Dubuque Main Street and the Klauer family and Klauer Manufacturing Foundation.
This latest Iowa Arts Council support will make possible the mounting of a major exhibition of 50 prints at the Dubuque Museum of Art from December 2012 to March 2013. Some of the photographs will show the same locations in 1912 and in 2012, some will show the same type of work (a barbershop then and now for instance), and some will show new kinds of work along with jobs that have disappeared.
The exhibition of these sets of photographs represents an important part of not only Dubuque's, but also Iowa's past. This photographic art collection is visually interesting, while making a profound statement about the nature of work -- of how humans work to live, and how that work ultimately shapes humanity and human life.