Ouida Dean

Amateur Documentarian

In response to being asked what draws her to documentary film, Ms. Ouida Dean didn’t hesitate: “In one word? Understanding.”  Ouida Whitaker Dean’s collection eloquently captures the shifting socio-cultural, ethnic, and economic realities of East Texas in the 1970s.  A self-taught photographer, Ms. Dean decided to learn filmmaking in her late thirties so that she could bring moving image production into her Shelby County high school classroom.

After attending a seminar at the Rice Media Center, Ms. Dean launched an “Artists in Schools” media program, a joint effort of Texas Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. With two school-bought cameras and her own camera, Ms. Dean and her students shot silent footage around the town of Timpson.  Ms. Dean participated in the production of the films both on and off screen, personally editing the films at home.  In her 2015 interview with TAMI, Ms. Dean stated that she hoped the process would “give [students] some identity and recognition.” Read More

Created just a year after the integration of the local public schools, many of the films illustrated Ms. Dean’s recollection of the era, noting that the students easily mingled and worked well together.  In addition, Ms. Dean aspired to capture the area’s experience of the women’s rights movement, pitching her idea for Women in Agriculture (1976) to her students during the second year of the program.  Perhaps her most compelling work, the film features candid interviews with community women discussing their roles on family farms.  Ms. Dean, however, was dismissed from her teaching position not long after the film was completed, and Women in Agriculture was never publicly shown.

Although she won a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school board, Ms. Dean never returned to teaching, choosing instead to continue her work in journalism, regional history, and photography.

Proceed to Bob & Alan Frye.