On the morning of April 20, 1982, my husband and I purchased a house at 15 West Masonic View Ave., in the Rosemont neighborhood of Alexandria. That afternoon, I gave birth to my son Sam. Six weeks later, I found myself living on a street of front porches and abundant greenery, with my world becoming a series of still images played out on the sidewalk beyond my front door. Because photographers take pictures, I did exactly that. Fireworks on the Fourth of July, after-school play dates, backyard sprinklers on a summer afternoon. Over the years, the children matured into teenagers, of course, and they had little interest in having their pictures taken. The street population also was no longer a constant. The Wilsons, the Tighes and the Walkers, along with my family, moved from West Masonic View Avenue. Over the years, many of those participants scattered across the country. My younger son, Jake Dingman, returned home after a year in California. His brother, Sam, joined him for a reunion weekend in Alexandria in June 2007. Still the recorder of moments, I took their pictures again.
In June 2008, I realized 20 years had passed since I had begun photographing the young people of Rosemont. I set out to contact them all and photograph them as they returned to Alexandria that summer. Rather than simply create a group of pictures documenting the details of change, I wanted to give the participants the opportunity to reflect in writing on their thoughts, hopes, dreams, desires of 20 years ago and also to consider them now. I wanted to acknowledge their individual voices while also celebrating the coincidence of growing up together in the same neighborhood. -- Claudia Smigrod
Claudia Smigrod is a professor of photography at the Corcoran College of Art & Design. Her upcoming exhibition, "Neighborhood Watch," a selection of vintage and contemporary photographs, will be on view in the Corcoran Corridor, Corcoran Gallery of Art, from July 1 to Aug. 9. She can be reached at www.claudiasmigrod.com.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/artsandliving/alexandria-then-now-062809/slide2.html