MFA|EDA Director Tom Rankin presents at the Library of Congress

Via CDS Porch:


“‘I confine myself to the place I was born and raised,’ [Paul] Kwilecki once said, ‘not as an arbitrary discipline or to prove that subjects worthy of photographs exist everywhere and in abundance, though it is true that they do, but because Decatur County is home, and I know it from my special warp, having been both nourished and wounded by it.’ The sentiments in this complex statement guide my treatment of the shape and story of his work, always with the hope of revealing Paul’s ‘special warp,’ what he saw and felt and thought, in time, in one small yet infinite space.” —Tom Rankin, from his Botkin Lecture essay, “About One Place: Paul Kwilecki and Four Decades of Photographs from Decatur County, Georgia”


“Pilgrim Rest A.M.E. Church, 1980.” Photograph by Paul Kwilecki.

Tom Rankin, editor of One Place, the acclaimed book of photographs and selected prose by self-taught artist Paul Kwilecki, will give the Botkin Lecture at the Library of Congress on October 30. The Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series presents the best of current research and practice in folklore, folklife, and closely related fields, inviting professionals from academia and the public sector to present findings from their research in lectures that are free and open to the public. Each lecture is recorded for permanent deposit in the Archive of Folk Culture, where researchers can access them. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 12–1 p.m.
Whittall Pavilion, Ground Floor, Jefferson Building
1st Street and Independence, SE, Washington, D.C.

While Paul Kwilecki (1928–2009) ranks among the most important American documentary photographers of the twentieth century, he is also one of the least well known. He was born and lived his entire life in Bainbridge, Georgia, running the family hardware store, raising a family, and documenting life in his community with hundreds of black-and-white prints.

One Place: Paul Kwilecki and Four Decades of Photographs from Decatur County, Georgia was published in April 2013 by the Center for Documentary Studies in partnership with the University of North Carolina Press as part of the Documentary Arts and Culture series.


A photographer, filmmaker, and folklorist, Tom Rankin has been documenting and interpreting American culture for nearly twenty-five years. He is the director of the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts and the former director of the Center for Documentary Studies, both at Duke University.

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