This article originally appeared in The Saluki Times.
CARBONDALE, Ill. — A project that spanned more than 48 hours and several thousand frames in early October comes into focus next week with the premiere of “A Weekend in Murphysboro.”
Approximately 35 students from Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Journalism and other departments within the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts spent three days documenting the people and events in Murphysboro.
A reception that will include a gallery exhibit and the launch and live screening of “A Weekend in Murphysboro” interactive Web site is from 5 to 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13, at Murphysboro Middle School, 2125 Spruce St. The reception is open to the public; there is no admission charge.
Students used digital still photography, sound and video to document the city over a three-day period from sunrise, Friday, Oct. 2, through sunset, Oct. 4.
“The ‘Weekend in Murphysboro’ event was a terrific success,” said Gary P. Kolb, dean of the College of Communication and Media Arts. “The students learned a great deal from their coaches and from the people of Murphysboro who were avid participants. We were excited to be able to partner with Murphysboro in planning and conducting this wonderful weekend of storytelling and shared experiences. We look forward to working with other communities in Southern Illinois to tell their special stories.”
Rooted in documentary traditions, the multi-media experience also merges video with oral histories, said Mark J. Dolan, an assistant professor who helped spearhead the project. The video packages range from under one minute to a few minutes, and provide little snippets of life in Murphysboro at that particular point in time, Dolan said.
Dolan hopes the project provides residents with a new appreciation for their community.
“Hopefully we will show them things that they weren’t aware of, and some things they were aware of but show them in a different way,” he said.
The project brought students together with about 20 of the nation’s leading editors and practitioners. Even with the massive production effort, Dolan said it is important to realize “we are still just really scratching the surface of what Murphysboro is.”
“We were trying to show a slice of Murphysboro; a sense of what the community is like during this particular time,” he said. “It’s accurate; but there is still so much more.”
In addition to corporate donations of equipment and software from Apple and Canon, the project also received a boost from the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the city of Murphysboro and it tourism commission, SIUC, and the Illinois General Assembly.
A project of this size would be difficult in these economic times without the Illinois Humanities Council grant, Dolan said.
“Their contribution was a major part in making this happen,” he said.