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“Fall River Portraits — Making Things” exhibit opening at the Narrows

Diman students setting up the show
Diman students setting up the show

FALL RIVER — Over the last several months, teams of college students from UMass Dartmouth and high school students in Diman Regional Vocational High School’s Photography Club have been photographing the production areas and workers in 25 locally owned workshops and factories in Fall River.

Their photographs depict the making of everything from shirts, hats, uniforms, leather bags, tool belts and jackets; to nuts and bolts, precision machinery, and high-end security cameras; to furniture, pillows and mattresses, musical instruments, jewelry, soaps and toiletries, and dental implants.

More than 50 students have been visiting these workplaces and learning about the people who work in these businesses. They have discovered incredible activity, pride and skill behind the doors of the sometimes rather run-down old mill buildings and the often rather bland looking exteriors of the Industrial Park. Their photographs and accompanying captions document and celebrate the fact that lots of useful and beautiful things are actually made in Fall River.

“The Fall River Portraits — Making Things” exhibit at the Narrows Center for the Arts will feature about 350 photographs of these factories and workplaces as well as captions detailing the histories of these businesses and stories of the people who work in them. The exhibit will also showcase many of the signature products produced by participating businesses.

Everything from hats, purses, shirts and motorcycle jackets, to soaps and toiletries, to metal tools and fasteners will be shown alongside the photographs that tell the story of how they are made. (Photographs can be provided upon request.) This is the third Fall River Portraits exhibit. Photographs from previous years featuring Fall River’s neighborhoods and family-run small businesses will soon be available for viewing on a “Fall River Portraits” website.

The public is invited come to the exhibit opening on June 3 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Narrows Center for the Arts. Refreshments will be provided by Diman’s culinary students as well as by local family-run bakeries and food businesses that make some of Fall River’s much-loved specialties.

Many of the owners and workers of the participating businesses will be attending the opening. The aim is to collectively celebrate what are often unrecognized — sometimes struggling, sometimes prosperous, always persevering — businesses that constitute an important core of this city’s economic life.

The exhibit will be up through the month of June and can be visited free of charge Wednesday through Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Narrows, 16 Anawan St.