Photographs by Raleigh, NC photographer David Simonton are featured in the special exhibition Southern Memories, organized by John Bennette at this year's SlowExposures photography festival in Pike County, Georgia.You can read John's comments about David's work if you go to the SlowExposures blog, here.
Simonton, a native of New York who grew up in New Jersey and moved to North Carolina in 1989, quickly turned his artistic gaze on his adopted home. Noticing that North Carolina is primarily a state of small towns, he has documented over 350 of its towns and rural communities.
Bennette says Simonton shows us "the small southern towns we hear about and dread." But I don't think that's right. I think David shows us the small Southern towns we live in, in a South that is perpetually in transition.
Simonton pays particular attention to the Southern townscape in moments of this transition, from day to night, from rural to urban, from old to new. He helps us redefine Faulkner's old remark that in the South the past isn't dead; it isn't even past. In Simonton's images of the South, the past is present but in the moment of its passing, so we see not only what remains but the condition of how it remains with us.
Simonton is widely recognized for his photography. His portfolio is among the work of a small group of North Carolina photographers in the permanent collection of the NC Museum of Art, along with John Menapace, Elizabeth Matheson, Caroline Vaughan, and others.
Simonton has also taught photography at NC State University and Peace College, both in Raleigh.
Among his many awards is the Juror's Award in the 12th Annual Center Awards Exhibition, sponsored by the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California, for his "originality of expression, strong guiding idea, skillful use of the chosen photographic materials, personal integrity, and relevance to our own times." He has also twice been named recipient of the Visual Artist Fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council (2000, 2008).
Simonton is well-included in John Bennette's show. He is definitely a Southern Photographer We Admire.