Friday, August 26, 2016

Southern Accent Show at Duke's Nasher Museum of Art

Duke's Nasher Museum of Art is about to open a major exhibition of work entitled Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art.

Southern Accent will feature work by 60 artists working in a variety of media, but including among them a significant number of photographers.

Folks at the Nasher describe the show as one that "questions and explores the complex and contested space of the American South. 

"One needs to look no further than literature, cuisine and music to see evidence of the South’s profound influence on American culture, and consequently much of the world. 

"This unprecedented exhibition addresses and complicates the many realities, fantasies and myths that have long captured the public’s imagination about the American South. 

"Presenting a wide range of perspectives, from both within and outside of the region, the exhibition creates a composite portrait of southern identity through the work of 60 artists. 

"The art reflects upon and pulls apart the dynamic nature of the South’s social, political and cultural landscape."

Included among the photographers with work in this show are such familiar names as William Christenberry, William Eggleston (see image three images below), Deborah Luster (see image at the top of this post), Sally Mann (see image directly above), Richard Misrach, Gordon Parks, Tom Rankin (see image directly below), Burk Uzzle (see image two images below), Carrie Mae Weems (see image four images below), and Jeff Whetstone.

This show promises to be a major event in the exploration of the Southern in contemporary art, as well as an opportunity to discuss the relationship between photography and other visual art forms in the depiction, documentation, and meaning-making of the American South.

This exhibition is co-organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, Chief Curator and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and Miranda Lash, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

The curators note that "The exhibition has been four years in the making, but the timing of Southern Accent is especially meaningful now in the wake of Charleston, Orlando, Baton Rouge and countless other tragedies, and given the tense social and racial climate during this presidential election year.

"We’re an art museum, so exhibitions are our platform for starting conversations. 

"We hope Southern Accent can create a space to reimagine the South in new ways and reframe the way we think about the South in contemporary art. At its best, art can help give shape to cultural and social change, promote needed discourse and even help build community.”

The Nasher is planning a number of events to celebrate this show, including a party on August 31st, from 7 to 10 pm, featuring a performance by artist Sonya Clark, a Second-line
parade with the John Brown Band, live musical performances by Justin Robinson and shirlette ammons and a DJ dance party. There is a full calendar of events here.

Even if you cannot get to Durham (or later, to Louisville) for the show, the Nasher is making much of the event available to everyone through a variety of media. 

You can see images of all the work in this show if you go here.  There are recordings of Southern music and podcasts about the show hereThere is a reading list of novels and books about the South, here. 

I'm especially happy to see that Jill McCorkle, my colleague in the English Department hre at NC State, is one of the featured writers in this series. 

Finally the show's catalogue Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art is being published, and is for sale from the Nasher's Museum Shop, here. 

The catalogue promises to be a chunkster at 276 pages. The folks at the Nasher promise it "offers a robust expansion of investigations raised by works in the exhibition, with texts from myriad perspectives, ranging from groundbreaking scholarship to poetry, song lyrics and personal reflections."  

My congratulations to the folks at the Nasher for putting together what promises to be a major exhibition, and a tribute to the talents and vision of Southern artists, photographers included

This is a must-see show for the fall. Southern Accent will be up at the Nasher through January 8th, 2017. 

It will then travel to Kentucky, where it will be on display at Louisville's Speed Art Museum, where it will be on view April 29 – August 20, 2017. 

Catching Up with Eyes on the South -- Late Summer, 2016

Photographers featured -- since our last listing --  in Jeff Rich's ongoing Eyes on the South for the Oxford American include the following:

1. New Orleans-based photographer Virginia Hanusik (see image above), with images from her portfolio Backwater.

2.  Florida-born but Brooklyn-based photographer Michael Adno (see image above), with images from his portfolio Cracker Politics, The Limit of Colonial Knowledge.

3. Conway, SC-based photographer Tracy Fish (see image above), with images from her portfolio When the Road Seeks

4. Atlanta-based photographer Kelly Kristen Jones (see image above), with images from her portfolio Gray Space

Jones has also been interviewed on Burnaway, go here.  

5. Durham, NC-based photographer Lisa McCarty (see image above), with images from her Lumen portfolio, go here.

6. Durham, NC-based photographer Kate Medley (see image above), with images from her Somewhere Else portfolio, go here. 

7. New Orleans photographer Harold F. Baquet  (see image above), with images from his Eyes of Desire portfolio, go here. 

Baquet's work has also been featured in the Washington Post, go here

8. Greenville, SC-based photographer Polly Gaillard (see image above), with images from her December and Everything After portfolio, go here.

9. Washington, DC-based photographer John Jons (see image above), with images from his The Going Places: Southern Routes portfolio, go here.

10. Fredericksburg, Virginia-based photographer Eric Marth (see image above), with images from his A Virginia Roadside Companion portfolio, go here. 

Still more to come, from The Southern Photographer. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Southern Photographers in the News, Part 1 -- Summer 2016

Folks, its been a long, hot summer, even for the South. July was supposed to be the hottest month on record, ever. 

But lots of good things have been happening in Southern photography, more than I can cover in one post. So, let's get started.

Mississippi-based photographer Betty Press (see image above) continues the phenomenally successful career trajectory she was on in 2015.  

Press has received the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for photography for 2016 in the category of Capacities and Street Photography. 

She has also had work in a recent group show celebrating Mississippi photographers at the Fischer Gallery in Jackson, MS. 

More on that show in a later post.

Chapel Hill-based photographer Lori Vrba's new book The Moth Wing Diaries (see image above) has been reviewed by One Twelve Publishing, go here.

Vrba is having a special sale of prints of this, the cover image for her book, at the moment, go here. 

Williamsburg, VA-based photographer Eliot Dudik (see image above) has had work from his Still Lives portfolio on display in a group show at the Pictura Gallery in Bloomington, Indiana as well as in a solo show in the Atelier Gallery of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Boston. 

Dudik's work, and his career, have also been the subject of a conversation on HOT SHOE, here

Tamara Reynolds (see image above), Zach Wolfe (see image directly below), and Micah Cash (see image two images below) have recently had photo essays on view at The Bitter Southerner. 

Reynolds' work is a personal exploration of her relationship to the American South, while Wolfe's work documents the Southern hip hop scene, and Cash's work explores the visual impact of the TVA on the Southern landscape.

More to come from the Southern Photographer, so keep an eye on this space!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ken Abbott is Having a Wonderful 2016, and Its Only July

Asheville-based photographer Ken Abbott is having an wonderful 2016. 

First of all, Abbott's book of work made at Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, NC, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, was published by Goosepen Press, with the name Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm.  

Then, Abbott was invited to do a solo show of his work from this portfolio at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, now up until September 10. 

This is a beautifully-mounted show, with Abbott's images of Hickory Nut Gap Farm elegantly displayed in the Center for Documentary Studies' galleries -- it is not to be missed if you are in Durham.

Then, Useful Work was reviewed in Aperture, go here.  It was featured by Aline Smithson on Lenscratch, go here. 

It was featured on Jeff Rich's Eyes on the South blog for the Oxford American, go here.
blog, go here.


Useful Work was also featured in Abbott's hometown paper, the Biltmore Beacon, go here. 

And now, Abbott and Useful Work has been featured in PDN's Photo of the Day feature, go here.

Abbot's work has also been featured on Slate, go here.

So, Abbott is on a considerable roll this summer, and a well-deserved roll it is. 

This work is elegantly seen, evoking a rich sense of the place and the people and of the lives that have thrived and endured in these buildings and on this land. 

Besides, as I sit here in my office in Raleigh, and its 95 degrees outside, I somehow feel cooler, just looking out at the Blue Ridge from the spot Abbott places me in the image above, on the porch at the farm, where already there is a welcome touch of autumn in the air. 

Congratulations to Abbott on this work, and on earning the recognition, and on the prospect of what may still lie ahead. 

After all, its only July.

Friday, July 22, 2016

William Eggleston at the National Portrait Gallery

Distinguished Southern Photographer William Eggleston is having a major exhibition of his work at the National Portrait Gallery in London, now up through October 23rd, 2016. 

This show constitutes a major career retrospective for Eggleston, including 100 color and black and white images dating from the 1960s to present, chosen to represent what the National Portrait Gallery is describing as "the most  comprehensive display of his portrait photography ever."

The National Portrait Gallery recognizes Eggleston for "his experimental use of colour and his solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1976  . . . considered a pivotal moment in the recognition of colour photography as a contemporary art form."

The show includes what the Gallery is describing as "monumental prints of two legendary photographs first seen forty years ago: the artist’s uncle Adyn Schuyler Senior with his assistant Jasper Staples in Cassidy Bayou, Mississippi (see image directly above), and Devoe Money in Jackson, Mississippi (see image at the top of this blog post).

The show also includes what the Gallery is billing as "a selection of never-before seen vintage black and white prints from the 1960s, featuring people in diners, petrol stations and markets in and around the artist’s home in Memphis, Tennessee, [that] help illustrate Eggleston’s unique view of the world."

If you can't make it to London for this show, The National Portrait Gallery has for sale the catalogue for the show, entitled William Eggleston: Portraits, with text by
Phillip Prodger and an appreciation of Eggleston's work by the Academy Award-winning director Sofia Coppola.

Or, you can order directly from the National Portrait Gallery a special edition (limited to 250 numbered copies) of this book, "encased in a beautiful cloth clamshell box with a cloth cover and signed by the photographer," for only £295.00, or about $400.00 US dollars. 

(I must say, as I read this description, I am reminded of the way John R or Gene Nobles or Hoss Allen used to describe the special deals available at Randy's Record Shop in Gallatin, TN, during their shows on WLAC, in Nashville. I suspect Mr Eggleston remembers that, too.)

Anyway, while you are at the National Portrait Gallery's website, you can also pick up a copy of the Exhibition Poster for this show and register for a free trip to Memphis for three days of touring in the Eggleston country of southwestern Tennessee and the Mississippi Delta.

Based on the reviews, this show is a big hit in London. You can read more about the show here:
The Evening Standard gives the show ★★★★★, and writes “Two great pleasures result: seeing again images that are among the most resonant and eternally fascinating photographs ever made — like revisiting favourite songs — and encountering new, unexpected gems.”

Read the full review from The Evening Standard, July 19th, 2016, here.

Time Out London gives the show ★★★★★ and writes “You have to see Eggleston’s work edited in this way. And you have to see his photos in the flesh... If I could give it six stars, I would.”

Time Out, 19 July 2016
Read the full review

The Guardian also gives the show ★★★★★ and writes, “Eggleston never diminishes what he sees but somehow enlarges both the momentous and the trivial... It is all there. What a great show.”

Guardian, 20 July 2016
Read the full review

The Daily Telegraph gives the show ★★★★ and writes “Photographer William Eggleston's Southern Gothic is steamier than a heatwave -- Eggleston is essentially a storyteller, and the best images in this show aren’t so much portraits as passages in a lifetime’s narrative about a people, a culture and a place.”

Daily Telegraph, 20 July 2016
Read the full review

So, this one is a must-see show if you can get to London. 

Think about how far it is from Memphis or the Delta to London and to the National Portrait Gallery, and Mr Eggleston has made that journey. 

What a long, strange journey! What a joy to contemplate!  

Congratulations to Mr Eggleston!