• Eillie Anzilotti: Oberlin, Ohio

    Photo: Ellie Anzilotti

    Posted on November 29, 2012 by Eillie Anzilotti

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    ……….Oberlin, Ohio is a place of opposites. Home to one of the most liberal colleges in the country, it’s also, underneath everything, typical of a small town in Ohio. It’s a place in transition, a place that’s searching for an identity of its own while accommodating the influx of well-off, liberal college kids off the coasts.

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    And it’s struggling. The town is poor; it’s empty, often dilapidated. There’s not a lot of hope, and Ohio’s attention in the national news as a swing state was but a weak glimmer of hope that conceals the reality of places like Oberlin.

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    Photo: Eillie Anzilloti

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    My photographs try to capture that reality. Pulling back from my subjects, I took in the character of Oberlin in its dingy anti-glory. With the students away on fall break, mostly (my brother remained; he’s the lone figure in the alley facing the church), the life of Oberlin locals came to life, but it was spread thin. Few people roamed the few streets; construction was some of the only activity, working to improve the town out of sight of the students.

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    Photo: Eillie Anzilloti

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    In the images, I tried to portray the emptiness of the town, but also the connections between Oberlin’s physical structures and its people. I tried not to draw attention to the human figures, but rather to let them become part of the town’s buildings. A man blends into the convenience store behind him, unimpressed by the young student riding past on a bicycle. In the back alley behind Oberlin’s one gourmet restaurant, two men rebuild its roof; another pauses for a break on the back stairs, blending with the patterns in the building’s bricks. In front, men unload a shipment from the back of a truck beneath a faded American flag.

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    Photo: Eillie Anzilloti

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    That’s what Oberlin looked to me this visit: a faded America. Underneath the college brochure life I’d seen there before, it’s a town that needs help. And with the students away, it’s all the more obvious that the college isn’t giving it.

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    Photo: Eillie Anzilloti


    Copyright 2012

    About The Author: Eillie Anzilotti is a senior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania. Class of 2013.

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    Self-Portrait by Eillie Anzilotti, 2012