Visions of Us: Southern Illinois Portraits by Paul Elledge

Sat 21st Oct, 2023 – Sun 31st Dec, 2023

Posted by APA Admin Posted in Community Event, Exhibition

Two males in a romantic embrace photographed in Carbondale, IL, 2023

Duality’s Embrace, Carbondale, IL, 2023. Image by Paul Elledge

Visions of Us: Southern Illinois Portraits by Paul Elledge is a visual exploration that seeks to illuminate the diversity and depth of the people of southern Illinois. Inspired by the works of author Studs Terkel and by photographer August Sander’s People of the Twentieth Century, this exhibition aims to dispel the misconception that southern Illinois is merely “flyover country” and instead showcases the richness and complexity of its inhabitants.

Opening Preview
Saturday, October 21, 2023
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Free admission for members / $10 non-members includes free drinks and appetizers from 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Artist Talk
Sunday, October 22, 2023
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Free admission

Artist Statement

Through several years of photographing this collection of portraits, my intention has been to unite the vast array of people who call southern Illinois home, celebrating their diverse points of view, lifestyles, jobs, economic situations, educations, and life experiences. This exhibition serves as a reminder that true understanding and connection can be found by focusing on our shared humanity and embracing our commonalities rather than fixating on our differences.

In the spirit of Studs Terkel, Visions of Us is a tribute to the power of recognition and the importance of respecting and honoring everyone’s unique narrative. Just as Terkel dedicated himself to capturing the voices of everyday people through his writing, I endeavor to do the same through these portraits.

August Sander’s influential work photographing the people of the twentieth century also serves as a touchstone for this exhibition, which inspires me to delve deep into the lives and identities of the individuals I portray. Sander’s commitment to capturing the dignity of his subjects, their social roles, and their humanity resonates within Visions of Us as I strive to present a truthful and authentic representation of the people of southern Illinois.

Visions of Us stands as a testament to the power of creative works to unite and uplift, fostering empathy, understanding, and connection. By capturing a wide range of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences, I hope to inspire a sense of unity that transcends geographic boundaries and fosters a deeper appreciation for the shared human experience. By respecting and appreciating everyone we can then recognize their unique contributions to the community and the broader society.

Visions of Us seeks to dispel stereotypes, encourage appreciation, and ultimately celebrate the remarkable depth and complexity of the people who call this region home.

I would like to dedicate this exhibition to the profound impact my parents Frances and Jim Elledge had on my life. Their invaluable lesson of “ask more questions than you have answers” has undoubtedly shaped my perspective and fostered a lifelong curiosity. I sincerely thank them for supporting my creative endeavors and for nurturing the inquisitive spirit within me.