LOWELL - Over the past 30 years, Earl Dotter has used his camera to capture the courage and spirit of Americans who work in essential, yet hazardous, professions.
Area residents soon will have an opportunity to view a cross-section of the Baltimore photojournalist's work at a two-month exhibit at the Lowell National Historical Park's Boott Mill. "The Quiet Sickness: A Photographic Chronicle of Hazardous Work in America" - cosponsored by the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center and the University of Massachusetts Lowell Labor Extension Program - will run from Oct. 1 to Dec. 11. It is free and open to the public daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The public is invited to the opening reception on Tuesday, Oct. 1 from 4 to 7 p.m., where there will be an opportunity to meet the photographer.
The exhibit will feature about 70 photos, with portraits ranging from coal miners to garment workers to medical professionals. It also will include photographs from "When Duty Calls: A Tribute to New York City Firefighters," in which Dotter honors those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Earl's photography is incredible," said Charley Richardson, director of the UMass Lowell Labor Extension Program. "Coal miners, health care workers, fishermen and firefighters face hazards, difficulties and, often, indignities. Earl certainly captures that in his images. They also have pride in their work and Earl captures that as well."
Dotter describes his exhibit as "a 25-year chronicle of the individual cost in health and lives lost by those who perform essential but often unnecessarily hazardous tasks, to make the U.S. economy one of the most production and profitable in the world."
"Quiet Sickness" derives its name from signs erected in a cotton mill community in South Carolina to alert visitors that victims of Brown Lung disease may be resting at any time of the day.
The Boot Mill exhibit is part of the Worker Photography Project, which is bringing together union workers and teenagers from working-class families to chronicle their lives with cameras. Dotter will lend his expertise to two project workshops this fall.
Dotter is an Alicia Patterson Fellow, 1999-2000, and the 2001 recipient of the Alice Hamilton Award of the Occupational Health and Safety Section of the American Public Health Association.
Other community groups that are co-sponsoring the exhibit and project include the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, United Teen Equality Center and Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council. Other UMass Lowell sponsors are the Council on Diversity and Pluralism and the departments of Work Environment and Regional Economic and Social Development.
UMass Lowell, a comprehensive university with special expertise in applied science and technology, is deeply committed to educating students for lifelong success and conducting research and outreach activities that bring value to the region. Second largest of the UMass campuses, Lowell currently offers its more than 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students 90 different degree programs in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Health Professions, and Management, as well as the Graduate School of Education.