Sam Stephenson, a writer and director of the Jazz Loft Project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, spoke May 11, 2010, at the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University about the life and work of photographer and Wichita native W. Eugene Smith.

Smith, who worked at the Wichita Eagle and the Wichita Beacon, made his name as a combat photographer in World War II and then went on to become one of LIFE magazine’s celebrated staff photographers at the magazine’s mid-century, pre-television pinnacle. Stephenson has been researching Smith’s life and work for 13 years, and authored three books on the artist, uncovering two mammoth “lost” parts of Smith’s career, the Pittsburgh series, and the Jazz Loft Project. Stephenson will focus on the fever and passion of Smith, whom art critic John Berger has called “the most religious of all photographers.”

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William Eugene Smith was American Photojournalist born in 1918 in Wichita, Kansas. He started his photography at the age of 15 for local newspapers. Smith worked for Newsweek, Flying Magazine, Life Magazine, etc. Smith joined Magnum Photos in 1955 and became a full Member in 1957. His popular works are Dream Street, Let Truth Be the Prejudice, and Shadow & Substance. Smith died on October 15, 1978, Tucson, Arizona.

“Photo is a small voice, at best, but sometimes – just sometimes – one photograph or a group of them can lure our senses into awareness. Much depends upon the viewer; in some, photographs can summon enough emotion to be a catalyst to thought.” – W. Eugene Smith

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