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The 45th Parallel

Pete Springer/OPB

Lisa Wells and Bobby Abrahamson set out to document the plight of Oregon small towns in the spirit of the Federal Writers Project during the New Deal. Their work, titled The 45th Parallel, is currently on display at the Newspace Center for Photography in Portland.

They focused on four Oregon towns: Halfway, Fields, Mitchell, and Longcreek — all of which have populations under 350 people. The two Portland-based artists understood the challenges of accuracy and exploitation inherent in documenting the lives of others. They traveled to the locations separately, not wanting to come across as offering a definitive account of the towns. They instead focused on their personal connections with the towns and the people who live there. The photographs on display are the beginning of what the artists hope will be an on-going project in collaboration with the residents depicted.

Here’s a preview of some of the photographs being dispalyed in The 45th Parallel:

Do you live in rural Oregon? How do you see your town depicted by outsiders? What are the challenges of documenting the life of small town, Oregon?


  • Lisa Wells: Author based in Portland, Oregon.
  • Bobby Abrahamson: Photographer based in Portland, Oregon.
rural small towns

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