Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Photography in the American South

This blog is about photography of the American South. The subject includes the South as a subject for photographs as well as a place where photographers learn and practice their craft. It will be a resource for links to centers, museums, collections, exhibitions, and individual artists. It will also be a place to reflect on the meaning and practice of a southern photography.

The South has functioned in American culture as a distinct place, an American “other.” Photography has done much to define that “otherness.” Photography developed as a practice early enough to record defining moments of this “otherness,” from late antebellum images of slavery through the iconic Civil War images of Matthew Brady and others to the documentary work of Lewis Hine in southern textile mills.

In the history of photography many of the iconic images are of southern subjects. Traditions of depicting the South in photographs achieved a defining moment in the depression-era images of Walker Evans, Margaret Post Wolcott, and others. Many of the images from Robert Frank’s The Americans depict southern subjects.

Many photographers significant in the history of fine art photography have themselves been southerners, from Eudora Welty to William Eggleston to Sally Mann. In recent years, major American photographers such as Harry Callahan have spent significant portions of their artistic careers photographing in the South.

Photography is now flourishing as a practice in the contemporary South, as events like Atlanta's month-long Celebration of Photography, Washington's FotoWeek DC, and Charlottesville’s Festival of the Photograph clearly demonstrate.

With so much going on, it's time to document at least some of it and to consider what it's about.

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