Most Cal Poly students may look upon the images in the photography exhibit “Suburbia” by Bill Owens with slight familiarity.

Though the photographs of suburban life were taken between 1968 and 1972, the depictions of track homes, family holidays, childhood events and neighborhood gatherings ring true for many Americans.

“(Owens) was one of the first to use photography as a form of visual anthropology,” University Art Gallery coordinator Jeff VanKleeck said.

Owens graduated from at Chico State in 1963. He became a newspaper photographer in Livermore, Calif. in 1968. At that time he began photographing people in their communities.

“When Owens started, there wasn’t really a market for photography as art like there is now,” VanKleeck said.

“Suburbia” has been exhibited nationwide, including at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The Getty Museum then bought some photographs for its permanent collection.

The photographs were chosen from Owens’ 1972 book “Suburbia.” Most of the images are black and white and accompanied by a short quote.

The exhibition debuted at the University Art Gallery in the Dexter Building Sept. 8 and will be on display until Oct. 24. Owens visited the campus to speak about the work on Sept. 21.

“His talk was really interesting because he spoke about the mentality of the images. He met these people in the Livermore and Dublin, Calif. areas and created a relationship with these people. He took families’ photos over two years and created a connection,” student director for the gallery, and art and design senior Paradise Osorio said.

Some members of the Livermore and Dublin communities attended Owens’ discussion. “A lot of people and community members were at the talk. There’s a following for ‘Suburbia’ and his photography. It’s a great response if we can get people from outside our community to see these photographs,” Osorio said.

Inspired by the exhibit, the art and design department encourages students to submit their original photographs to the invitational exhibition “Slo-burbia.” “It’s a call for student work and is unique to this show,” Osorio said.

Color or black and white photographs must be 4×6 inches to 5×7 inches. Visit the University Art Gallery during normal hours until Oct. 24 to sign up, learn the rules and guidelines for submission and to submit work.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m.

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