The Center for Documentary Studies is currently showing Dream Street: W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh Photographs. This remarkable photo essay, by one of the greatest and most significant photojournalists of the 20th century, depicts various aspects of Pittsburgh and in a broader sense, life in America.
The CDS exhibit contains 85 of his photographs, all which were taken during the year 1955. Smith had just left a distinguished position as a photographer for Life magazine because there were frequent arguments with editors about artistic control of his work. Smith joined a photographer's cooperative and soon after left for Pittsburgh. He felt that this particular city reflected the complex issues of modernity in mid-century United States, especially in pieces like "Smoky City," which shows a new office building shrouded in the smoke from local steel mills. The CDS exhibit was put together by Sam Stephenson, a research associate who has been working with Smith's Pittsburgh photographs for five years. He was a guest curator for the exhibit when it opened at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. Dream Street has also been displayed at the International Center of Photography in New York City and the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Stephenson also wrote the script for the documentary film titled Brilliant Fever: W. Eugene Smith and Pittsburgh, which will be shown on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m.