Arts / Galleries

An Exhibit of Forgotten Kodak Photos Opens a Portal to the Past in Corsicana, Texas

Don't Miss 'Dust,' Co-Curated by Notable Dallas Photographer Allison V. Smith

BY // 11.03.23

Ages ago, long before digital photography and smartphones, people used to drop off their undeveloped film at a store which then mailed it to Eastman Kodak, Fox Photo, or elsewhere for processing. Inevitably, some people never returned to pick up their prints. Beginning in 1948, City Office Supply in Corsicana dutifully stored its customers’ abandoned negatives, slides, and photographs in filing cabinets, hoping they might one day be retrieved. Each time the company moved or was sold, the trove of forgotten images came along.

In the Spring of 2019, 400 envelopes containing old film and photographs were unearthed from a pile of boxes and debris in a building on Beaton Street, which was undergoing historic renovations. These images, dating between 1948 and 1966, capture everyday life during that time in Navarro County — holidays, parades, baptisms, high school dances, weddings, road trips, babies’ first steps.

From the exhibition “Dust” in Corsicana, Texas

Many were shot in black and white, the images unexpectedly thought-provoking. In one photo, two men and a woman make their way across a lonely rail yard, their backs to the camera. In another, a little girl in a pretty dress and hair bow stands on a porch next to a tattered chair. And, in a shot worthy of Avedon, a young man in a cowboy hat dramatically fills the frame, with horses and barn artfully blurred in the background.

From the exhibition “Dust” in Corsicana, Texas
From the exhibition “Dust” in Corsicana, Texas

Hundreds of such images are the subject of Dust, an exhibition co-curated by noted photographer Allison Smith and Michael Thomas, editor and publisher of 1814 Magazine.

A program of events and lectures will be offered during the exhibition, which runs from November 3 to 19, noon to 6 PM, 200 E. 4th Avenue in Corsicana. [email protected].

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