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Barker discusses photographer Polly Smith at Friends of UT Arlington Library meeting

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Monday, October 13, 2008

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Media Contact: Teresa Newton

ARLINGTON - Photographer Polly Smith wasn’t as critically acclaimed as Margaret Bourke-White or Dorothea Lange, her 1930s contemporaries, but her work broke new ground in Texas.

Evelyn Barker, a UT Arlington librarian, will discuss Smith and her work at the Friends of the UT Arlington Library meeting at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, at the Central Library, 702 Planetarium Place.

Barker, author of “A Texas Journey: The Centennial Photographs of Polly Smith” (Dallas Historical Society, 2008), will sign books following her talk.

Smith, an Austin native, landed a job straight out of photography school to photograph Texas for the 1936 Centennial Exposition in Dallas. She traveled alone — at the time an unheard of thing for a woman — shooting scenes for the Exposition’s promotional materials, showing the state’s economic and cultural diversity.

“I hope people rediscover her talent,” Barker said of Smith, who died in 1980. “She really did something unique. She took photos for the state for marketing purposes. That hadn’t been done for tourism before.”

The photos, 80 of which are in Barker’s book, are recognizable of a Texas of long ago. Barker’s favorites include a Hispanic boy in front of an adobe plant and a bucket of peppers.

Smith’s photos were not displayed at the Exposition, but about 16 are permanently mounted in the Hall of State at the Fair Park in Dallas.

The Friends’ meeting is open to the public. Be sure to RSVP by Thursday, Oct. 16.

Contact Betty Wood at (817) 272-7421 or bwood@uta.edu to RSVP or with questions.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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