Get our newsletters

“The Roosevelt Project: Photographs by Fran Orlando” to open at Bucks County Community College


Bucks County Community College announces the opening of “The Roosevelt Project: Photographs by Fran Orlando” at Hicks Art Center Gallery at the College’s Newtown Campus on Wednesday, May 22.

Orlando photographed the residents of Roosevelt, N.J., for two years starting in 1978, in black and white with 35 mm and medium format cameras.

The town was born of a 1930s New Deal project intending to bring Jewish garment workers in New York City out to the country to work in a cooperative factory. When the factory failed, the town became a rural mecca for artists, writers, and musicians.

Artists included Ben Shahn, Bernarda Bryson Shahn, Gregorio Prestopino and Jacob Landau.

Orlando sought to create a portrait of the town by photographing the people who lived there, several of whom were original residents. This exhibition revisits the previously unfinished project and presents a selection of 50-plus portraits that reflect a unique community at a particular moment in time.

Orlando received recognition and support for the project from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, exhibited at the New Jersey State Museum, and had a solo exhibition of the work in progress at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie. The project was put on hold when she left New Jersey to attend graduate school in Philadelphia.

During the intervening years, Orlando established a photography business in Philadelphia, worked in various museums as an educator and exhibition planner, and served as Director of Exhibitions and Artmobile at Bucks County Community College for 35 years. She currently works as assistant editor at The Photo Review, a critical photography journal of international scope and readership.

Orlando lived in New Jersey until 1980. She has lived in Newtown, Bucks County, for 30 years.

“Much has changed in the 45+ years since I started this project,” Orlando noted. “Neither the town nor photography are the same. The elders that I photographed are gone; the children are grown. My original gelatin silver prints are considered ‘vintage.’ Moreover, the project has taken on a historical significance that I never considered when I began.

“After all these years, I didn’t feel like I could return to the darkroom and begin literally where I had left off. My life has been spent teaching and learning and I couldn’t deny the changes in myself either. I needed to leave my original gelatin silver prints in the past to bring my work to the present, so I scanned the original negatives and printed the work digitally with my current sensibilities.”

All are welcome to the opening reception from 4 - 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at the Hicks Art Center Gallery, Bucks County Community College, 275 Swamp Road, Newtown. The exhibition will remain on view through July 3. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Saturdays from noon - 4 p.m.

For more information, visit or call 215-968-8425.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.