Creative Envy

Tuesday, December 2, 2008, 7:10 pm
Filed under: book envy | Tags: , , ,

Last night I picked up my reserved copy of The Oxford Project at the library. I had read about Peter Feldstein’s undertaking via GOOD’s Very Short List weeks ago and was immediately intrigued. Feldstein set out to photo document every member of his Oxford, Iowa town back in 1984. Almost 25 years later, he photographed as many of the same people as he could for a second time. With the help of writer Stephen G. Bloom, there are now personal stories to accompany each individual’s two photographs taken years apart.


From the back cover:

The town of Oxford, Iowa, lies just outside of Iowa City but you’ve probably never heard of it – until now. Its population hovers around 700; the same Mayor has presided since 1974; it’s hard to spot on the map. But take a look beneath the surface of this Midwestern enclave, and discover a community of people that are as fascinating, complex, and surprising as any you might ever meet.

The Oxford Project is a living time capsule that challenges assumption and shatters stereotypes as it reveals the extraordinary true tale of one seemingly ordinary American town. Its power is grounded in a captivating series of then-and-now portraits of Oxford residents – taken in 1984 and again today – and in the confessional first-person prose accompanying each pair of photographs. In these pages, the story of two decades unfolds before your eyes. You will be moved and riveted by the truths and secrets, fantasies and flaws, the profound differences and shared histories that define and unite this unique community.

Calvin Colony with his pet lion in 1984 and Calvin today

Calvin Colony with his pet lion in 1984 and Calvin today

The layout is beautiful and the photography and stories are just plain honest. The people of Oxford are regular Americans at first glance but they have some pretty fascinating life stories to tell. The authors note how a lot of the people posed in the exact same way after all these years. It’s even more fascinating seeing as how both in 1984 and for those taken recently, Feldstein only took single frames of each resident.

I may have to purchase a copy of my own to leave out on top of my (soon to be acquired) coffee table. Read more about The Oxford Project here.