Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Susan Worsham in One One Thousand

Richmond, VA-based photographer Susan Worsham is the latest photographer to be featured in OneOneThousand, the e-zine of Southern photography.

Susan offers us a portfolio named By the Grace of God, made up of images Susan says were made because they were supposed to be.

This work, she says, shows us "places, and characters, that I believe, I have found through a sort of divine intervention. They are strangers, that invite me into their homes, to sit awhile and hear their stories." 

So this work deals with "the hospitality of strangers, and hits on a feeling that I have sometimes when taking portraits. The feeling that I was supposed to meet a particular person, or turn down a certain road."

The title of this portfolio comes, of course, from the old saying, that I'm "American By Birth, Southern By The Grace Of God."  And one feels that in these images. 

One feels that the photographer is comfortable with herself and with her history as a Southerner, and with the present moment that our history has bequeathed to us and with the people we have been given as companions in this identity. 

Susan presents herself in these images as one who can write that "Kudzu is now making it's way over my childhood home, covering the past like a blanket, and putting it to rest."  So she looks "for the intimacy of 'home' in other places." 

"Following a southern road with the slow pace of a funeral march," she writes, "this series takes me beyond the backyards and trails of my youth. It deals with the hospitality of strangers" who recognize another Southerner when they see one.    

Susan looks at the South and at Southerners with clarity and integrity and clear-eyed courage.

Her work holds a sense of inevitability, that her subjects found her as much as she found them, and that the journey, and the meeting, was supposed to happen.

This is a benign form of traditional Southern fatalism, and if you are going to have that (often dubious) gift of one's Southern heritage, this is the best, and clearly the most productive, form to have it in.   

Susan's vision of the South has a gravity that imparts dignity to her subjects and her locations. This is important work, very much worth your attention.

This work also demonstrates why Susan is having a fine start to her career. In 2009, she won First Place in the Texas Photographic Society's annual International Photography Competition. In 2010, she was awarded the first TMC / Kodak Film Grant, and was also an artist in residence at Light Work in Syracuse, New York. In 2011, she was named one of PDN's 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch. 

Susan now has work in the Nine Visions show now up at the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History in Danville, VA. 

If you can get to Danville, make sure you have a look.

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