Call for Entries

In Response: Revisiting the DOCUMERICA Photography Project


Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, OR announces an open call for a group exhibition inspired by the 1970s Documerica Photography Project that was initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to document the human connection to environmental issues. The exhibition will take place at Newspace June 3 – July 16, 2017. We are seeking recent image-based work that documents the correlation between environmental problems and issues of race, gender, place, age, class, occupation, health care, lifestyle or others.

Submissions are due April 13, 2017. Please review the guidelines below closely.

In 1971, the newly formed EPA announced the initiative Documerica—a photography project to document the environmental changes the American landscape had undergone leading up to the formation of the agency. This endeavor was modeled after the famed Farm Security Administration (FSA) project (1935-1944) where photographers and writers were hired by the government to document the conditions of rural poverty during the New Deal era. Similarly, Documerica aimed to legitimize the efforts of the EPA in regulating industrial polluters and raising awareness to the individual culpability of American consumers whose wasteful habits were proven to increasingly affect the environment.

Seventy photographers – from famous to unknown – were sent on 115 assignments across all 50 states from 1972 to 1978 to create a “visual baseline” from which environmental progress could be charted, and were furthermore tasked with capturing on camera “the human connection” to environmental issues. The resulting 20,000+ images linked issues of race, gender, place, age, class, occupation, health care, lifestyle and more to environmental problems.

Read more about Documerica here.

To view the images of the Documerica Project visit the National Archives Flickr page.

Much like the watershed moment from which Documerica was born (the celebration of the first Earth Day in 1970 and the formation of the EPA in 1971) we are nowadays facing a similar urgency stemming from an oppositional impetus. The current administration has made a clear statement on its position towards the EPA with the appointment of a director who has questioned the legitimacy of the agency he is now tasked with spearheading. As a result, the EPA is facing a systemic dismantling of its oversight, and substantial de-regulation of hard-fought environmental protections. This comes at a period of record global temperatures and frequent natural disasters that have scientifically been linked to climate change.

Please review the guidelines carefully and contact for questions prior to the deadline. No phone calls.

* Submitted work must have been created since 2010.

* Submitted work should address the correlation between environmental problems and issues of race, gender, place, age, class, occupation, health care, lifestyle or others.

* We encourage experimentation with different genres and formats of photography.

* Each submission may contain up to five images. Limit one entry per person.

* All entries must be submitted using the online entry system below (CDs or direct email submissions cannot be accepted). There is a $3 processing fee.

* Images must be sized as 72dpi jpg files that are 10 inches in their longest dimension. Each jpg file should be titled with your last name, first initial, ‘underscore’ and the entry number, i.e. the first image uploaded by Mike Smith would be SmithM_1.jpg

* Artists must also submit a short statement about the work and its connection to the stated theme of the exhibition.
Submissions deadline: April 13, 2017, 11:59pm

Selected artists notified by April 21, 2017

Works arrive at Newspace by May 25, 2017

Opening reception: June 2, 2017, 6:00-8:00pm

Exhibition closes July 16, 2017
Newspace Center for Photography is a nonprofit community space for image-makers of diverse interests and skills. Through exhibitions and public programming, an education program and public photo-production facilities, Newspace serves as a place for people to engage with the image as it evolves in contemporary culture.

1632 SE 10th Ave
Portland, OR 97214

Gallery hours:
Monday – Thursday 10:00am-10:00pm
Friday – Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm.
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