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Kauffman Museum photo exhibit will feature Texas Mennonite group

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Kauffman Museum at Bethel College will feature a special exhibit of photos of members of a conservative Mennonite group in west Texas.

“Mennonites in Texas: The Quiet in the Land” opens at the museum on the Bethel College campus Sunday, July 27. On that same day, the photographer, Laura L. Camden, will speak about her project photographing the Texas Mennonite group.

The show is being toured by the Center for American History of the University of Texas at Austin and features 25 black and white photographs.

Camden photographed the Low-German speaking Mennonites who live in Seminole, Texas, as part of her master’s degree program in photojournalism at the University of Texas. By spending more than a year getting to know the families and participating in day-to-day activities, she developed deep insight into the religious beliefs as well as the family relationships, role expectations and daily routines of this conservative Mennonite community.

The resulting photographs comprise an intimate look at the lifestyle and culture of the “Old Colony” group. The photos are featured in a book, Mennonites in Texas: The Quiet in the Land, published in 2006 by Texas A&M University Press. Camden’s co-author, Susan Gaetz Duarte, documented the Beachy Amish Mennonite community in Lott, Texas.

During her career as a photojournalist, Camden covered the presidential campaign of George W. Bush for Reuters News Pictures, based in Austin, and also spent five years as a staff photographer for newspapers in Texas and New York. Her photographic work has been published in newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, People Weekly and The Washington Post. Currently, she is an assistant professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where she teaches photography and documentary studies.

Camden will present “Photographing the Quiet in the Land: The Mennonites of Texas Project” as part of Kauffman Museum’s Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum series, July 27 at 3:30 p.m. The program is sponsored by the Friends of the Mennonite Library & Archives, also at Bethel College, and the Berneil R. Mueller Trust. Camden will also autograph copies of Mennonites in Texas, which will be for sale on-site. The program is free and open to the public.

“Mennonites in Texas: The Quiet in the Land” will be on display through September 21. Kauffman Museum is located at 27th and Main in North Newton. Regular museum hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the museum, which also includes admission to special exhibits and the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture,” is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children ages 6-16. More information is available by calling the museum at 316-283-1612 or visiting its Web site, kauffman.bethelks.edu/.

PHOTO: "Sarah Funk"; courtesy of the Laura Camden Photographic Archive, The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

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