Sunny Strader: 5th Grade Dreams
I’m sure we all have imagined an opportunity to go back in time and connect with people from our past, in particular school mates that shared in our growing up. Facebook and class reunions have afforded a bit of that investigation, but photographer Sunny Strader has made a concerted effort to find, photograph, and interview 17 classmates who were all members of the 2002-2003 gifted class at East Park Elementary school in Danville, Illinois. She focuses on her 5th Grade Class in her series, 5th Grade Dreams. She has created a comprehensive website and will be exhibiting the work in Danville from Oct. 12 — Nov. 15th. This project is a fascinating look at how life isn’t always a straight line, but more how we prevail and move forward, no matter the circumstances.
Sunny Strader (b. 1991) is a photographic artist based in both Los Angeles and Illinois. Sunny uses textand image to explore the emotional nuances of people who are often overlooked. Her work has been published by Aint-Bad, The Strange Fire Collective, Instagram, Bird in Flight, and NPR. She was most recently named a winner of the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward competition and a finalist for the Lucie Book Prize.
‘5th Grade Dreams’ explores the adult lives of my fifth-grade classmates, all of whom have an IQ of 120or higher. We attended East Park Elementary School in Danville, Illinois from 2002-2003.
There are 17 of us, and 16 agreed to participate in the project. Six are parents, eight graduated from college, eight live in Danville, and one is married.
For the past two years I’ve been traveling throughout the Midwest in an effort to reconnect with each classmate and reflect on the present, past and future. While I’m not yet entirely sure what the project is“about,” I believe it reveals some of the nuances of being a millennial, being bright, being born in an old rust belt town. The work also explores dreams — the ones we chase and the ones we defer.
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