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January 1, 2008

Paul Shambroom "Meetings"

At the Weisman Museum I started walking around and looking at the 5 different series of collections of photographs that made up Paul Shambroom's "Picturing Power" Exhibition. The exhibit is Shambroom's look at 5 scenes of power - Factories, Offices, Nuclear Weapons, Meetings, and Security. Instead of trying to pick out any particular photo in the collection, I looked at it more broadly and decided to just talk a bit about one of the five topics as a whole. I thought that the 'Meetings' collection was very interesting for a few reasons. First was that I liked how he chose meetings to photograph that we from smaller communities from all over the United States, most places with less than 2000 people except for groups that concerned themselves with distinct neighborhoods in urban areas. As he said, he wanted to choose "meetings concerned with the general interests of their constituents." For me the most powerful thing about the whole 'Meetings' section of the exhibit was how it got me thinking about all of the real power that can be found in so many different forms throughout our country, the power democracy has. When you looked at some of the members photographed I found myself thinking how they didn't exactly fit the mold that someone maybe has for a council person, but to me that was what makes it awesome - there is no real 'face' to this power, it is just people who genuinely care for the good of their community in those smaller towns. When I initially thought about power, it wouldn't have been some of these places that Shambroom photographed but after having it open my perspective some it makes perfect sense. The power is all relative. It really was a eye-opening experience overall as well too, looking at different forms of Power and often in such up close and revealing images. One particular one that stands out to me that I wanted to just mention even though it was outside of the 'Meeting' realm was a photograph he took of some nuclear bombs at a military facility. The thing that just struck me the most was a man in the picture was just sweeping around them as if they were nothing but mere obstructions when in reality they are a world-altering weapon that is a symbol of power for not just our country but others who possess them. I realize that after being around them they would in some sense just blend into the fabric of the facility they were being housed, but as an outsider looking in it is something truly profound to wrap my head around.