Salt Institute for Documentary Studies

Located in Portland, Maine, the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies offers a 15-week immersion program for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in documentary writing, photography, or radio.
This blog is an update of current Salt students insights and musings.


Documenting My Decision

I've found myself in both bingo halls and Buddhist temples this past week. Let me explain to you a little about how I arrived here.

I drove out here from Michigan a day before classes began at Salt after squeezing all of my belongings into a 10x10 storage unit and leaving them behind. I had made a conscious decision to come to Maine with a clean slate and to open myself up to a new set of experiences and skills that I had believed would be discovered in the field. Since arriving, I have been living in my lightly furnished room atop Munjoy Hill, only surrounded by very few of my personal belongings. I've taken notice to the fact that the walls of all apartments on Munjoy Hill have been cast with a vibrant array of colors by their occupants and my apartment is no exception. These mismatched pale pink and yellow walls that encapsulate my bedroom became a blank template for me to decorate with mementos of my experience here at Salt. Unintentionally, I have created a visual timeline of my progresses here and one that documents my cultural exploration of Maine. It began as I posted above my bed the first Polaroid images that I had shot well before 8 a.m. on my first Saturday in the program while in Gardiner, Maine. I had been inside the A-1 diner with my group at the start of our mini ethnography exercise that Jessica described, and it was when I really recall the reality of my decision to move and attend Salt sinking in. Slowly, I have added to these images as each moment progresses and I become more deeply enmeshed in the life of Mainers. Next to these series of Polaroid images I have included my winning Bingo card that I earned in Old Orchard Beach as I followed a story into the lives of residents of this currently sleepy summer tourist destination. Next to this hangs an image that was handed to me two days ago as a gift from a Monk at the only Buddhist temple in the state of Maine that my writing partner and I spent some time getting to know. Today, I have added an image that my fellow Salt student, Erica, very kindly printed and mailed to me of myself that she had shot on my first non-Salt related Portland outing.

I look forward to furthering my explorations into the area and simultaneously collecting images that represent these experiences to hang on the wall. Perhaps I will use these additions to later include in the blog and to create a visual reference for you all as to just where this semester has led me. I’m a photo student, so that’s how I should be telling my stories anyway, no? :]

No comments: