Four Distinct Voices From the Capstone Seminar in Documentary Studies

Grid of four photos: man wearing beret reads a newspaper while playing chess; tobacco leaves dry in a barn; a woman works in a field with a truck and equipment; laundry hangs to dry over a table
Clockwise from upper left, works by Anna Schilling, Clementine Biddle, Huiyin Zhou and Cate Knothe

In the captivating Capstone seminar class collection, four distinct voices merge to explore themes of history, community, identity and memory through their artistic expressions.

Anna Schilling’s project, titled “The Death of the Third Place,” addresses the erosion of communal gathering spots in contemporary society. Through her artwork, she advocates for the revitalization of these essential social spaces, urging individuals to reconnect and foster community in a world trending towards isolation.

Clementine Biddle’s photographic series, “The Legacy of Tobacco in Durham” delves into Durham’s tobacco industry, using black and white imagery to blur temporal boundaries and invite reflections on the city’s evolving narrative. This timeless approach not only highlights historical impacts but also encourages viewers to ponder the constancy amidst change in urban environments.

Huiyin Zhou’s mixed-media installation “huan xiang 幻象,幻想,还乡: illusion, imagination, impossibility, of home” intertwines digital and analog elements to explore a transnational queer feminist’s fragmented family history and memories. The installation is a profound inquiry into identity, belonging, and the contradictions of diasporic life, offering an intimate view into alternative rituals and memory-making practices.

Cate Knothe’s short film “Remnants of Remain” pays homage to the complex familial relationships shaped by unexplained estrangements and blended truths. The narrative centers on a grandmother whose mysterious severance from her family leaves a legacy of mixed memories, weaving real events with fabricated stories.

Together, these artists present a rich tapestry of personal and collective histories, each piece a reflection on the spaces, both physical and metaphorical, that shape our identities and societies.

Yasaman Baghban is a Center for Documentary Studies instructor who taught the Capstone Seminar in Documentary Studies in Spring 2024. The students works are on display at CDS.