The Precipitous Decline of Cairo, Illinois: Enamels and Photography
Driving through what remains of Cairo, Illinois, it appears to an outsider that most of the town, including historic buildings and extensive business district, was abandoned within the same year, as nearly all the structures are in the same state of decay. In actuality, many events and circumstances caused Cairo’s precipitous decline. The town’s history includes booming success as a shipping center at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, elegant hotels and mansions and an impressive business district. The more recent history is one of race riots, appalling violence, multiple lynchings, domination by white supremacist groups and eventual boycotts of local businesses by African Americans. The 1920s city of more than 15,000 people is now home to fewer than 3,000 people, hundreds of strangely patched-up, decaying buildings and a handful of struggling businesses.
In this lecture, artist Sarah Perkins will give a short slide lecture about her personal work, which is primarily enameled bowls and and containers, and will also address the collaborative project with Gwen Walstrand, Cairo, Illinois: Photographs & Enamels, on display in Community Gallery at the Octagon Center for the Arts in downtown Ames. Walstrand will present work from her photographic projects, which include narrative approaches to landscape, typological portraiture of adolescents and the collaborative project with Perkins.