Story and Photos by Ethan Pickering | Lifestyles Editor
The Baldwin Photographic Gallery at Middle Tennessee State University hosts “Baltimore: Block by Block, Work in Progress” by photographer James Singewald from Sept. 16 to Oct. 28, 2021.
The exhibit features a unique array of photos from the urban streets of the Northeastern United States, with an interesting historical background.
Singewald, a native of Rhode Island, completed his graduate studies in photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art. While there in Baltimore, his interest in history and architecture grew into his idea for this exhibit and several other photography projects he has undertaken for his career.
Prior to his time spent in Baltimore, Singewald photographed neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
“I became more interested in the vibrance of a city, Philly is very colorful,” Singewald said, while speaking at MTSU on Sept. 25.
Singewald emphasizes with his photography the aspects of life that “go unnoticed by your everyday routines.”
He does this by photographing whole streets, building-by-building, house-by-house. Capturing a city street in a specific time period.
The vibrant skies and the colors of the buildings sometimes changes throughout the years.
After his time in Philadelphia, Singewald pursued his masters program in Baltimore, photographing more buildings there and continuing his tradition that he had started in Philly.
“I was initially intimidated by Baltimore, but I wanted my photos to have a story,” Singewald said “I didn’t want to just make ‘ruin porn,’ like where people just take photos of ruined buildings just because they are abandoned.”
Singewald pays close attention to the history of these urban buildings.
“In grad school I studied urbanism and how cities were formed and divided by race and class,” Singewald said, “back in the 1940s and 50s when urban renewal began, tons of government money was used to clear slums.”
This concept, along with a motive for preserving these old historic buildings in time, inspired him to go research certain neighborhoods and trace their past through the troubles and trials of history.
Singewald also had a personal connection with Baltimore in particular, because some of his ancestors were from the city and some of their residences still remain standing to this day.
The “Baltimore: Block by Block, Work in Progress” exhibit is open until Oct. 28 in the Baldwin Photographic Gallery in Bragg 269.