Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas at Graceland -- 2012

In the words of Paul Simon, "I have reason to believe we all shall be received in Graceland."

Best wishes for Christmas and the holiday season to Southern photographers and Southern photography fans everywhere!

The Blog about Southern Fine Art Photography has been taking a break while your humble blogger has attending to other professional responsibilities.

You may learn more about them if you go to THIS WEBSITE.

We look forward to catching up on 2012 early in 2013, and forging onward.

In the meanwhile, remember that Christmas is a season, not just a day, and it is 12 days long, so its Christmas until Twelfth Night, January 5th.

Happy New Year, y'all!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tierney Gearon in the New York Times

Atlanta-born photographer Tierney Gearon has a large portfolio of her work entitled Hollywood Heroines featured in the December 9th, 2012 issue of the New York Times Magazine.

The portfolio features images of 13 women who had one or more major roles in Hollywood movies this past year.  The list includes Quvenzhane Wallis (see above), who starred in the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild.

You can see the entire portfolio here.  This issue of the NY Times Magazine also informs us that Gearon will publish a book of her photographs with the published Steidl in the fall of 2013.

Gearon is known for her arresting, challenging, powerful compositions, exemplified in this portfolio.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Orleans: Kevin Kline and Rick Oliver on One One Thousand

One One Thousand, the online photo magazine of the American South offers us for October work by two New Orleans-based photographers, Kevin Kline (no, not THAT Kevin Kline) and Rick Oliver.

Kline brings us street images (see image above) made his wanderings through the parishes of Louisiana, chiefly portraits, that document and celebrate the variety and diversity of the people of New Orleans and its surroundings.

Kline has a fine eye for people, and for their similarities and their differences, and  he has this on display in these engaging images.

Rick Oliver's work attends more narrowly to the culture of Zydeco music and the people of Acadiana, the southwestern part of Louisiana, around Lafayette, New Iberia, Breau Bridge, and St Martinville. This is where French settlers in Canada wound up when they were run out of Canada by the English.

Somehow, French culture and African-American culture got together in Louisiana, and Zydeco music is a large part of the result. Also, they learned how to cook, if a really mediocre meal my wife and I once had in Nova Scotia that was supposedly French Canadian cooking was any evidence of how they were cooking before they moved South.

In any case, if you have not been to the Zydeco Brunch on Saturday morning at Cafe Des Amis in Breaux Bridge,  you have a serious treat coming to you in Louisiana.

And while you are there, pick up a novel by James Lee Burke to take you into the complex heart of this part of the USA, and of its people.

Oliver has been there, and all over Cajun Louisiana, and says the "zydeco culture of Acadiana has provided me with the richest raw material an artist could ever hope to find. In these small town nightclubs and bars I discovered a warmth, passion, and visual delight that never failed to inspire me."

He has been making this work for over a decade, and gathered it into the book  Zydeco! (University of Mississippi Press, 1999), which was awarded the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book Of The Year prize for 1999.

Both Kline and Oliver work in the classic black and white mode of traditional documentary photography, an appropriate choice for the folks they bring to us in these images.

Strong work, much to be appreciated.

Pierre Gonnord at SCAD

French photographer Pierre Gonnord is having a show of his work from his portfolio Portraying the South in Gallery See in the branch of the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, at 1600 Peachtree Street NE.

The show opened on

This show -- part of this year's Atlanta Celebrates Photography -- is a joint effort by SCAD Atlanta and France-Atlanta in recognition of the the 50th anniversary of the death of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner.

Gonnard made this work during a recent three-month residency in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

According to its sponsors, Gonnord seeks in this work to capture "a glimpse into the soul of the Deep South, offering a timeless, unclassifiable, explosive and riveting portrayal of the American South . . . through the faces and landscapes he encountered.

Gonnord is a master of the portrait, especially through his handling of the play of light over the human face and his placement of the face in the frame.

Definitely looks worth a visit to SCAD before this show closes next month.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Jan Banning, Down and Out in the South

The Dutch photographer Jan Banning was artist-in-residence at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, South Carolina, in 2010.

While in residence, he developed a portfolio of portraits of homeless people in Columbia, and also in Atlanta and in the Mississippi Delta.

This portfolio, now known as Down and Out in the South, will be on view for ACP at Big House Gallery, 211 Peter Street SW, in Atlanta, from October 18th - 31st, 2012.

CNN has picked up images from this portfolio and has them for view on their CNN Photos blog, here. 

In an interview with CNN’s Cody McCloy, Banning says that meeting with some homeless people led him to think about his work as a photographer in terms of making visible those whom society regards as invisible.

Banning made these images with a medium format camera in a studio and with a full array of lights, to crate a strong sense of intimacy with his subjects.

He shot the portraits using a Fuji GX680, a physically large medium format camera that makes a statement in and of itself.

“This is something monumental,” he says. “So I want to get away from this association with the neighbor with a camera. This is more like making a statue. That’s the atmosphere I want to create.

“For me a portrait is, first of all, an encounter between two people. Forget about the camera, forget about subject, these are two people and they have to somehow relate.”

This approach gives us images that reveal the dignity of Banning’s subjects, the basic humanity that they share with everyone regardless of our station in life.

Banning says, “What it boils down to is the question of labeling. Are you concentrating on what makes other people different from you, or do you find yourself in these people, in these faces. Are they more familiar than you might want to admit?

“Seeing a homeless person is somehow scratching our conscience,” Banning says. “I think we all hope to live in a world where people don’t have to be homeless. And seeing them confronts us with our own failure to organize our society in a just way.”

Definitely strong work here, powerful images that overcome distance and difference to remind us of our common humanity.

For his respectful engagement with  the least of these, our Southern brothers and sisters, Jan Banning is an Honorary Southern Photographer.

It's October, It Must be Time for ACP

Its October, and that means that the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival is in full swing.

There are photography exhibitions up all over Atlanta, as well as a portfolio review and an auction, as well as lectures, discussions, and who knows what all the folks in Atlanta are up to.

You can find the online schedule of events here, or you can download a PDF of the Schedule here. 

The whole thing has gotten too big for one person to get his head around, but we will try to report on some of the highlights as time goes by. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The South and Southern Photography -- News, Reviews, Conversations

Kael Alford's new book Bottom of 'da Boot: Photographs by Kael Alford (Fall Line Press, 2012) is reviewed (very favorably) by Daniel W Coburn in the latest issue (# 43)  of Fraction Magazine.

Roger May talks about the work of Shelby Lee Adams on his blog Walk Your Camera, here. 

Jennifer Schwartz' flash photography show in a barbershop -- with photographs by Heidi Lender -- took place last week in NYC, and you can read a full report on Jennifer Schwartz' blog here. I missed the show, but Adam Isler was there and reports on his oBLOGago blog, here. 

Sally Mann's new show at the Edwynn Houk Gallery is reviewed in Le Journal de la Photogaphie, DLK Collection, Time Out NY, and The New Yorker.

There is an interesting conversation going on today in the NY Times under the heading The South's Enduring Conservatism. The piece includes comments by a panel of 7 Southern historians, legal scholars, and students of politics; responses to their brief but thoughtful essays are, as of this writing up to 122 and growing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Southern Landscape Photographers on Flak Photo

Flak Photo has an interesting on-line exhibition up right now called Looking at the Land: 21st Century American Views. 

This show was curated by Andy Adams of Flak Photo (juror's statement, here),  together with the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design.

The show consists of a whole bunch of contemporary landscape photographs,  88, if I counted well, by a geographically diverse array of photographers.

Some of these are Southerners, or take Southern subjects. Not quite sure what Laura Noel was doing in Rhode Island, but there it is.

Included in one of these categories are names familiar to readers of this blog, and some not so familiar -- Anne Lass, Jeff Rich, Chuck Heymard, Dana Mueller, Eliot Dudik, Jon-Phillip Sheridan, Kyle Ford (see image above), Laura Noel, Michael Sebastian, Maureen Drennan, Pamela Pecchio, Stacy Arezou Mehrfar, Sophie T. Lvoff, Ryan Boatright, Scott Conarroe, Rob Hann, and Christine Carr.

Since going up on the  Flak Photo website, this show has been featured on Time Light Box, here.

This is engaging work, well worth your taking the time to have a look. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SXSE for Early Fall 2012

Nancy McCrary and all the good folks at South x Southeast bring us an early fall issue filled with splendid images and thoughtful discussions of all things photographic in the Southeast.

This is, nominally, the Boy's Issue, to complement last summer's Girl's Issue.

Work by the Boys includes Todd Murphy’s images of Antarctica, Thomas Neff's portraits of Katrina survivors, Tom Chambers' evocative neoRomantic images of people and critters in nature, Jerry Siegel's portraits of Southern artists, Mark Caceres’ portraits of dirt racers in Alabama, Alex Leme’s meditations on the geometry of libraries, Matt Eich's panoramic images of (mostly) Southern locations, Daniel Kramer's attention to color and composition in Houston, and Jon Morgan's haunting images of American town-, city-, and people-scapes.

Also, in this election year, we have Steve Schapiro's images from the Civil Rights protests of the 1960's and  Christopher Morris' images from the White House during the presidencies of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Also not to miss are interviews with Geraldine Chouard, the author of a new book on Eudora Welty, and with Roger Robson, CEO of the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.

All in all, another fine issue, and its all yours for a very small consideration.

If you aren't already a subscriber, you really ought to be.

You know you ought to.

So just do it.

Sally Mann Show at the Edwynn Houk Gallery

The distinguished Southern photographer Sally Mann has just opened a major new show of work from her Upon Reflection portfolio at the Edwynn Houk Gallery, at 745 Fifth Avenue, in New York City.

This show opened on September 13th, and will be up through November 3rd, 2012.

The images in this show are, chiefly, work Mann did during her recovery in the late 2000's from a horseback riding accident. Unable to work in her accustomed manner, she turned her camera on herself, producing a series of self portraits and images of her own torso in its damaged, healing state.
According to the Houk Gallery, Mann  "has created a new technique for this project which is based on 19th century processes but that incorporates a modern sensibility. Each unique image is captured as a wet-plate positive on a large, black glass plate."

John B. Ravenal says of this work that "Mann complicates the logic of the flattened geometrical order with references to the antiquated, the irrational, and the horrendous.

"The repetitive display of degraded images calls to mind discards from a mid-nineteenth-century photo studio – plates flawed by the sitter’s movement or the medium’s unstable actions, of which they present a catalogue: pitting, scarring, scratching, streaking, graininess, blurriness, erosion, fading, haziness, delamination, over-exposure, and under-exposure"

The Gallery goes on: "For the very first time, the works from the Omphalos series will be on display.

"In this series, the focus is on the artist’s torso. Akin to the faces, the process is the same, but the grids of Omphalos examine more abstract, sculptural forms.

"The plates themselves have been treated as such: chiseled, scratched and smoothed until flesh becomes stone. Clearly a departure from one of the earliest and most timeless motifs in art, Omphalos is a title not only referring to the torso, but also to the symbolic continuation of the themes explored in Mann’s previous work: fertility, family, and heredity, recorded in the human form and in the land"

 Sally Mann is a deeply Southern photographer.

In response to a question about "what makes my work Southern," she said, "Oh, the obsession with place, with family, with both the personal and the social past; the susceptibility to myth; the love of this light, which is all our own; and the readiness to experiment with dosages of romance that would be fatal to most twentieth-century artists.

"In that sense, Southern artists are like certain of our mountain religious folk, who, in their devotions, subject themselves to snake bites that would kill or disable anyone else.

"What snake venom is to them, romanticism is to the Southern artist: a terrible risk, and a ticket to transcendence."

I think what makes Mann a Southern ARTIST is her unflinching vision, the gaze that does not hold back from the personal, the physical, and the mortal, and her ability to make our experience of that gaze compelling and engaging, and deeply troubling, as well.

There is no casual viewing of work by Sally Mann. That's a major reason she is Sally Mann.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Miller and Mercure on One: One Thousand

The Southern photography ezine One: One Thousand features work this month by Nashville-born but Connecticut-based photographer Greg Miller and by Sioux City, Iowa-born but Bristol, Tennessee-based photographer Tammy Mercure.

Both these photographers show work made in Tennessee, but putting their images side-by-side in this issue brings to our attention questions of the relationship between the photographer, the subject, and the viewer.

Both photographers show remarkable technical merit in their realization of their images, but they provide very different experiences of the same cultural area.

Miller's images are well-seen, rich in color, and thoughtfully composed (see sample above), but they show people in various settings looking remote, lost, disengaged, passive, bored, vacant.

Mercure's subjects (see sample below) fill more of the frame, engage the viewer directly and with energy, and seem at home in, and living large within, the settings in which we find them.

Part of this has to do with conventions of posing the subject. There is a long tradition of showing people looking in certain directions in paintings or photographs. Religious paintings often show people looking up. Portraits show people looking straight at us, or looking 45 degrees away from us, or 90 degrees away from us. 

This variation has something to do with creating, or interrupting, the illusion in realistic art that the subject is actually there, looking back as we who look at the subject.  And artists want to change styles or compositional practices occasionally to get a different look, explore new options, communicate different kinds of experiences.

Other contemporary photographers also adopt the pose of showing people with vague, blank looks on their faces. But the comments Miller offers us in his artist's statement suggest that for him this look has something to do with the relationship between the photographer and the subject, with Miller's search for home, communicating his own sense of loss -- of home, of connections, of history.

One could say that these images document the emptiness of Southern middle class culture, the culture that you get when Southerners leave the farm and move to the suburbs and try to live like the folks they see in the pages of Southern Living and Garden and Gun.

But I don't think so. I know a lot of these folks and they all, to a person, have far more life, more energy, more engagement with making meaning out of their lives than any of the folks in these photograph. 

Miller says that he made this body of work after having been away from Nashville for a long, long time.

"When I returned to face Nashville in 2008 with my 8x10 view camera, another 20 years later," he writes, "only a paved over modern American city remained, an emotional ghost town."

Nashville? A ghost town? Please -- Nashville is the center of the country music industry, the home of a vibrant music scene, one of the great centers of indigenous American musical culture. Not to mention, the only city in the world with a full-sized replica of the Parthenon.

But Miller's sense that the people in his images live in a ghost town is at least part of what comes through the expressions on the faces of the people in Miller's photographs. 

But when Miller cane to Nashville with his camera, he was looking for home. But he couldn't find it.

With "no childhood room of mine to return to," he says, he tried to find home. He "started with a map . . .  [and] stuck pins in all 17 places where [h]e had lived while . . .  growing up and drove around old neighborhoods, newly minted suburbs, intersections, crossroads, looking for us. Looking for my unsettled family."

He finds his grandparents' house, which "felt like the set of the movie about my childhood" and thought, "Who is going to care about this? How is a simple picture of this house going to have meaning to anyone other than me?"

He says, he "let that question hang in the air, and . . . clicked the shutter. [He] grasped at least one answer: maybe no one."

I think Miller made beautiful images in Nashville of his own sense of absence, of his inability to reconnect with the world of his childhood. These images may be witness to one person's wrestling with Thomas Wolfe's assertion that you can't go home again.

Mercure, on the other hand, has found her home in Bristol, Tennessee.

In her artist's statement, she quotes one Bill Maxwell to the effect that "The South is what we started out with in this bizarre, slightly troubling, basically wonderful countryfun, danger, friendliness, energy, enthusiasm, and brave, crazy, tough people." 

 She says her images "seem to show this area's collective love of history and the land." I think they show her love for, acceptance of, and engagement with these folks who are making meaning of, and coming to terms with, and living out their lives in "this bizarre, slightly troubling, basically wonderful country." 

And so it is. At least on the good days . . . . .

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More News of the Fall Season

The outstanding Durham-based photographer Titus Heagins has a show of photographs now up at Duke University from his Haiti: Before the Earth Moved portfolio.

Here is Titus at the opening:

And here is one of  Titus' pieces from the show:

My thanks to another local photographer, Paul Dagys, for these photographs of Titus' opening. You can see more of his images from the opening here. 

Paul himself has a Kickstarter campaign going to fund his travels through the South, working on a portfolio he calls Southern Expressionism, and you can see some of that portfolio below, and here. 

This looks like a worthy project. I've signed up as a supporter and I hope you will too. 

The Emily Amy Gallery, at 1000 Marietta Street,  in Atlanta will have a show opening October 19th entitled  Shared Southern Stories, which includes nine artists who were featured in the by-now famous Oxford American list of outstanding Southern artists.

Among the nine are photographers Keliy Anderson-Staley (see image above), Joshua Dudley Greer, Jessica Ingram, Phillip March Jones, Dan Tague, and Bruce Wilhelm.  This show will be up through November 24th, 2012.

Finally, for now, the Mississippi-based photographer David Wharton is about to publish his second book of B&W photographs of the South.

Wharton is Director of Documentary Studies and Assistant Professor of Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi's Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

He published  his first book of images made in the American South, The Soul of a Small Texas Town: Photographs, Memories, and History,
in  2000.

This second book, Small Town South, will be published in the fall of 2012. You can see some of the images in this book here.

It's fall. There is a lot going on. More later!

More News from the Oxford American

Those who have been following the editorial controversies at the Oxford American may be interested to know that a new editor has been appointed.

He is Roger Hodge, a Texan, who was editor of Harper’s magazine from 2006 to 2010.

He replaces the Oxford American’s founding editor, Marc Smirnoff, who was fired July 15th, 2012,  after an investigation by the magazine’s board into accusations by young employees of sexual harassment and improper conduct.

Mr. Smirnoff has, of course, strongly denied any wrongdoing and has started his own web site, editorsinlove.com, on which he defends himself from allegations of sexual harassment and what he has called unfair press reports about his dismissal.

All right, then. Everyone is in place, doing what we expect them to do. We can get back to other matters. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In the Galleries -- Sole, Kiernan, Kariko, Pecchio

It's past Labor Day in the South, the first cool breezes have begun to blow, and the fall gallery season is beginning to heat up.

This is the time we earn by putting up with June, July, and August. Here's a sampling of what's on offer.

Honorary Southern photographer Magdalena Solé is opening a show of her work from the Mississippi Delta in New York City at the gallery Sous les Etoile  at 560 Broadway, in SOHO, in Manhattan.

The show opens with a reception September 27th from 6-8, and will be up in the Gallery until November 10th, 2012.

Lexington, VA - based photographer Kat Kiernan is the current featured photographer in Jennifer Schwartz Gallery's series The Ten.

Kiernan's photographs explore the experience of loss and recall through memory she imagines the wives of sailors go through while they wait for their husbands to return to them from the sea.

In addition to being a photographer, Kiernan also runs the Kiernan Gallery in Lexington. 

Greenville, NC-based photographer Daniel Kariko has work up in the Weizenblatt Gallery of Mars Hill College, in Mars Hill, NC, opening September 12th and up through October 8th, 2012.

This is a solo show of Kariko's work, featuring images from his Storm Season and Speculation World portfolios.

Finally, Charlottesville, VA-based photographer Pamela Pecchio has been wearing two of her many hats.

She has opened a show of her own work called 509: Photographs by Pamela Pecchio at the RES IPSA Gallery,  in Oakland CA.

This show opened on September 7th and will be up until October 18, with a reception featuring the artist on Friday, October 5th, from 6-9. Pecchio will also give a talk at the Gallery on Saturday, October 6th, at 1:30 pm.

With her juror hat on, Pecchio curated a show of photographs now up at the 311 West Martin Street Gallery, here in Raleigh through October 13th.

The title of this show is MIMESIS: Contemporary Photography.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Jennifer Schwartz in New York City

Jennifer Schwartz is branching out from her gallery at 675 Drewry Street, in Atlanta, to explore alternative ways of marketing photographs.

 Her first effort will be a flash event at a barber shop in Manhattan.

For one night -- the night of September 27th -- Schwartz will take over Cut and Shave at 37A Bedford Avenue in Manhattan's West Village.

That night, she will host the show Self Time[d], a show of work by California-based photographer  Heidi Lender, featuring photographs from three of Heidi’s series: Once Upon, Green Dress and She Can Leap Tall Buildings. 

According to Schwartz, Cut and Shave is "a traditional barber shop with a classic, retro feel," which she believes will "complement Heidi’s playful work, and for one night only her beautiful images will adorn the walls."

Schwartz promises "great photography, mojitos, music and an unforgettable night!"

I'm definitely going to be there, if I find myself in New York that night, and I hope to see you there too.

Maude Schuyler Clay at the Delta Cultural Center

Mississippi-based photographer Maude Schuyler Clay has opened a major show of her work in the Delta Cultural Center at 141 Cherry Street, in Helena, Arkansas.

The show opened on September 1st and will be up through December 8th, 2012.

Maude Clay has exhibited and published her work widely, and published her first collection of photographs, Delta Land, with the University Press of Mississippi, in 1999.

You can see some of the images from this portfolio here.

Clay's family has lived in the Mississippi Delta for 5 generations.

Her work in Delta Land, according to the Mississippi Press, "involves the recording and preservation of Mississippi Delta landscape and its rapidly disappearing indigenous structures: mule barns, field churches, cotton gins, commissaries, crossroads stores, tenant houses, cypress sheds, and railroad stations."

Clay uses B+W images effectively to evoke a sense of timelessness, that quality of memory that creates of our past a place that never changes, even as it recedes from us.

This is a sense of the past that many Southerners carry with us of a time now lost.when things were in their place, and we knew our place among them.

Clay will publish her second major collection of images with the University Press of Mississippi, with the title, Delta Dogs,  in 2013.

You can see some of the images from this portfolio, here.

Photography in Southern Cities Featured in PDN

PDN, the monthly photography magazine for grown-ups, has a PDN Photosource supplement to the October issue (at least for the subscription copy) with two feature stories on photography in Southern cities.

In "Shoot in Atlanta," Jay Mallin discusses equipment and rental facilities as well as interesting places to shoot that, he says, "you won't find on the East or West coasts."

The piece includes brief interviews with Angelina Pennington, who is the art buyer for BBDO, an advertising firm in Atlanta, with Caroline Kilgore, photo editor for Atlanta Magazine, and with David Stuart, a photographer who works in Atlanta.

Jay Mallin also discusses, in this issue, the resources for photographers that Miami provides. I know Miami's status as a Southern city is a bit precarious, but it is certainly south of here, and if you need to photograph in Miami, this information about "Miami Studios" should prove helpful.

The Studio + Equipment Guide in this issue also provides brief accounts of the photography resources available in a national survey of locations that includes Washington, DC, Florida, and Georgia.

All this is helpful information if you are headed that way with your camera.

Ann Weathersby -- Chronicles of Life in the Changing South

Ann Weathersby is a photographer who lives in Brooklyn and works in New York City, but she was born in New Orleans.

Weathersby has a fine eye for portraiture and does special assignment work for the New York Times.

Recently, the Times sent her back to the South to make portraits of folks in Alexander City, Alabama to go with a story published in yesterday's NY Times Magazine with the title "Who Wears the Pants in this Economy."

Weathersby's portraits are really fine.  I am grateful to the Times for bringing her work to my attention.

The story, however, is not so fine. Well, the story is true and interesting, but the way the story is framed is not so fine.

The story was written by Atlantic writer Hanna Rosen, who ought to know better than to frame the story in the way she does.

The story is taken from Rosen's forthcoming book, The End of Men and the Rise of Women, the title of which cuts directly to the issue.

The point of the story is that the changing economy in Alabama has resulted in women being able to find good jobs while their husbands are losing theirs, in a culture which teaches people that women's place is in the home, that men are in charge in relationships, are the breadwinners, are the decision-makers.

As one of the women puts it in the article, "I am not a women’s-rights-type person. My place is in the home, and I’m fine with that, so long as my husband is earning the bacon. ’Course, that hasn’t been happening so much lately.”

So the story is about challenges to a very specific, culturally-situated set of definitions of male and female.

The story is really about how traditional gender roles among middle- or working-class Southern white evangelicals -- especially small-town Southern white evangelicals -- are facing challenges or beginning to break down in the face of economic change.

But the premise of the article -- as the title of Rosen's book indicates -- is that such definitions are not time- or culture-specific but generic, even in the face of the fact that middle- and working-class Southern white people have celebrated the strong female figure who rises to the occasion in times of economic stress at least as long ago as the days of Margaret Mitchell and Scarlet O'Hara.

Cultural definitions of gender roles may seem to take on a sense of permanence from time to time, especially when certain definitions get the support of institutions like churches or play into our need to define ourselves or others in terms of class or race or sex.

But they are always fluid, even, or perhaps especially, in the South, where myths about "male" and "female" are constantly being confronted by changing realities as people make meaning of their lives in the stories they tell and the images they make.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

DC Photography Fair Coming Up in October

Kathleen Ewing, long-time fine art photography dealer in Washington, DC, has organized the DC Fine Art Photography Fair, to be held October 5-7, 2012, at 2801 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC.

The event features work from fifteen established fine art photography galleries from across the United States, including a number from the American South, showing representative samples from their gallery inventories.

Southern galleries include, in addition to the Rebekah Jacobs Gallery in Charleston, the following:

Addison/ Ripley Fine Art, Washington, DC; Catherine Couturier Gallery, Houston, TX; Gary Edwards Gallery, Washington, DC; Kathleen Ewing Gallery, Washington, DC; the Hemphill Gallery, Washington, DC; and the Multiple Exposures Gallery, Alexandria, VA.

In addition to the exhibition, a panel discussion, “On Collecting Photography,” will be held from 11am to 12noon, on Saturday, October 6th.

The fair is free and open to the public, and is intended to be part of DC's e)merge art fair, an annual art festival in our capitol city.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Absence and Loss at Flanders Gallery

Sometimes one doesn't know what is happening in one's own neighborhood.

I got to see a show of photographs at Raleigh's Flanders Gallery on the very last day of the exhibition, and I'd chalk it up to negligence on my part and try to forget it, except that the images were strong, often haunting, and very much worth noticing.

The show was called Terrains of Absence, and featured the work of three photographers, Mark Iwinski (see image above), Ian F. G. Dunn (see image below), and Jerome DePerlinghi.

Much of the work by Iwinski and Dunn, though not all, was made in the South, but the focus of all three portfolios was on what Flanders Gallery calls "the desire to investigate and document . . .  small traces of life, or histories and stories that speak to us from the past, as they are found in urban, natural, and cultural settings,  and endeavor to make them visible."

 These guys find traces of histories and stories in "architectural fragments, graffiti on crumbling buildings, abandoned houses, parking lots, tree stumps, and old photographs," all of which "reveal terrains of absence in our day-to-day cultural and natural environment."

Dunn's work documents the transitional in Southern culture, especially in the form of that most transitory, yet still ubiquitous, phenomenon, the mobile home, which in this body of work has lost its mobility as well as its livability, and is all too ready to reveal its inability to shelter us much from time's passage.

Dunn's images speak of Southern poverty. They also speak of the mobile home's flip side, the Southern mansion, which is supposed to be an embodiment of permanence, power, and authority yet is all too ready to remind us that all is passing, nothing endures.

I found Iwinski's work especially haunting, given its juxtaposition of old photographs and new ones of the same places. The hand is part of each image, a reminder that these images are not mirrors of reality but the works of image-makers. Yet time alters the image as well as the object the image works from.

Faulkner said that in the South the past isn't dead, its not even past, but these images remind us that what we have trouble letting go of in the South is not the South but our images of the South. Things change, regardless of our desire to hold on to them, and in that change is both the occasion for grief and hope.

DePerlinghi's images were in keeping with the subject matter of Iwinski and Dunn, but the images were Not Made Around Here.

This was a strong show. I regret I did not know of it earlier, but will try to watch out for Iwinski and Dunn as their careers develop.

South Writ Large -- New Online Publication

I've just run across South Writ Large, a quarterly online magazine, now up to its third issue, which has set out to explore "the culture of the changing South through its literature, art, music, psychology, and social patterns."

The folks behind this say it grew out of something called "the Global South Working Group, based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where, beginning in 2007, authors, artists, psychoanalysts, historians, social scientists, documentarians, and other humanists have met regularly to share recent work and to discuss the dreams, history, symbols, art, music, migrations, transplants, and interactions that link the southern United States to the wider world."

They publish from the perspective that the "South, though historically recognized for its resistance to change, is not exempt from the impact of globalization.

"Globalization," they note, "pushes the South beyond a national, oppositional frame to an integrative South that interacts with the world. It has been increasingly open to a growing pluralism that combines cultures, the imported roots of “local” traditions and the global reach of regional culture.

The folks at South Writ Large believe that, in regard to the South in the 21st century,  “The far away is shaping the deep within,” a process that brings both excitement and tension.

"We at South Writ Large are keen to observe, learn and participate in that process as the South furthers this transformation and becomes increasingly interconnected with the many other countries and regions that are experiencing similar transformations.

 "South Writ Large publishes literature, art, music, performances, memoirs, scholarship, reflections and debate fundamental to this process of regional change and global reconnection. It hopes to stimulate a conversation that is open, broad, and ever expanding."

I'm glad to see this publication, especially because the current issue includes a portfolio of photographs by Richard Sexton, which suggests the editors now see their remit including images as well as the stories, poems, and essays that were the focus of the early issues.

Always a good move when dealing with the South, I'd say.

Photography at Rebekah Jacob Gallery This Fall

The Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston shows mainly photography, and a fine job with it Rebekah Jacob does, too.

Her brick-and-mortar gallery has just recently expanded to a larger space in Charleston. The October show in the Gallery will feature work by Richard Sexton from his Charleston to Cuba portfolio, a body of work exploring the relationships between Charleston and Cuba, and the larger Caribbean.

Jacob is also developing ways of exhibiting and marketing photography on her website, which currently is featuring Atlanta-based photographer Jerry Siegel.

Jacob has started a special program on her website called  FILTER: Photography for the Young Collector, which currently has on exhibition a show of 28 photographs at prices making them accessible to all collectors.

Included in this show is work by Siegel, Richard Sexton, and other well-known photographers, as well as rising young stars like Ben Williams, Cyle Suesz and Eliot Dudick.

Jacob is earning well-deserved national recognition for her gallery. It has just been named one of 15 established fine art photography galleries from across the United States to be included in this year's DC Fine Art Photography Fair, to be held Friday, October 5-Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 2801, 16th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. 

Jacob will be showing B+W images by Ernest Wither, Keliy Anderson Staley, and Kendall Messick (see above) at this show.

Our congratulations go out to Jacob, and all best wishes for continued success and recognition. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Frank: In Focus Coming to Chapel Hill

Frank, the Artists' Cooperative Gallery in Chapel Hill, NC, has announced the full schedule of events for their first photography festival, starting in early September.

Frank: In Focus includes a series of forums, exhibitions, and other events, all to be held in Chapel Hill/Carrboro, beginning Sept. 5th and running through  Nov. 1, 2012

The Event Calendar:

Wednesday, Sept 5 -- Closing Reception -Barbara Tyroler, Beijing Impressions Show at the FedX Global Center 301 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, NC

Sunday, Sept 9 @ 2:30 @ Framers Corner 210 West Main St, Carrboro, NC   --  Artists talk. Donn Young-Four Photographic Essays -- Art, Controversy, and Censorship: panel discussion with Donn Young and guest panelists including Todd Drake.

Thurs. Sept.13th: @ 6pm-9m @ Frank gallery -- Frank Artists discuss The Image in Flux A tour/discussion on the photographic work by Frank artists, Alan Dehmer, Peter Filene, John Rosenthal, Barbara Tyroler, Bill McAllister, Bryce Lankard, Caroline Vaughan, Wojtek Wojdynski, Jackie Tait Leebrick, Sam Wang, David Spear, Peg Gignoux. Featured Artist: Bill McAllister

Artwalk: Fri. Sept. 14th @ 6pm-9m @ Frank gallery Changing Focus:The Image in Flux opening

Thurs. Sept. 20th @ 6pm @ Frank Gallery -- The Modern Photographer --  With Pat Davison, UNC Journalism Dept. Michael Itkoff: cofounder Daylight Books Jock Lauterer: UNC J-school instructor, Community Newspapers

Fri. Sept. 21st @ 7pm @ North Carolina Museum of Art 2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC --  The Discerning Eye: NCMA Special Tour Chief Curator, Linda Dougherty leads a tour of the Julian T Baker collection, A Discerning Eye, featuring the work of some of the most important photographers of the 20th century.

Thurs. Sept. 27th -David Spear presentation: -6pm Frank Gallery John Rosenthal presents Guggenheim Fellowship and NC Artist Fellowship award winner photographer David Spear.

Fri. Sept. 28th @ 6pm @ Daylight Books,121 W. Margaret Ln. Hillsborough 2012 Daylight Photo Awards opening: Plus a book signing for Kevin Kunishi’s book ‘Los Restos de la Revolucion’. www.daylightbooks.org

Sat. Sept 29th @6pm @ Carroll Hall auditorium- Rm 111 UNC - Chapel Hill - UNC campus Artistic Trajectories : Voices in Contemporary Photography -- With Jeff Whetsone: UNC Art Professor Jacquelyn Leebrick: Art professor emeritus -ECU University Lori Vrba: represented by Jennifer Schwartz Gallery Moderator: Gilbert Leebrick -gallery director ECU University

Sun. Sept. 30th @ 1-3pm @ The Carolina Inn: Chancellor’s Ballroom 211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, NC The Informed Collector- How and Why to collect Photography: With  Roylee Duvall: director, Through this Lens Gallery, Durham, NC Gabrielle Larew: director, Doma Gallery, Charlotte, NC Jennifer Schwartz: Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, Atlanta, GA Frank Konhaus, photography collector, Chapel Hill, NC moderator: Kelly Flanders: Flanders Gallery, Raleigh, NC

Sun. Sept. 30th @ 3-5pm @ The Carolina Inn: South Parlor 211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill --  The Carolina Inn Collection: Join us after the Informed Collector panel in the South Parlor for a cocktail reception with the panelists for “The Informed Collector” and take a guided tour of the Carolina Inn’s exhibit given by the curator, Dr. Kenneth Zogry.

Thurs. Oct 4th @ 6pm @ Frank Gallery The Documentary Project: Vincent Joos: “Little Haiti, Mount Olive, North Carolina: Documenting the Haitian Immigration in Eastern North Carolina” Jessica Kennedy: ”The Shifting Face of Agriculture in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina” Christopher Sims: Instructor, CDS at Duke University-“Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan.”Represented by Ann Stewart Fine Art. DL Anderson and Jeremy Lange: Independent photographers “The Farmer Veteran” .www.vittles.us

Sun. Oct. 7th @ 4:30-6pm @ Wilson Library Gallery 200 South Rd., Chapel Hill --  Special Preview: Photographic Angles- News Photography in the North Carolina Collection Stephen Fletcher, Photographic Archivist of the NC Collection and curator of this exhbition will be on hand for a guided preview of this special exhbition.

 Sun. Oct. 7th @ 6pm @ Pleasants Family Assembly Room Wilson Library, UNC campus 200 South Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514 -- Critical Focus- The Curatorial Perspective, with Stephen Fletcher: Photographic Archivist, NC Collection Dennis Kiel: Head Curator, The Light Factory Roger Manley: Director, Gregg Museum, NCSU Linda Dougherty:Chief Curator, Curator of Contemporary Art, North Carolina Museum of Art Moderator: Xandra Eden- Curator-Weatherspoon Museum

 Thurs. Oct. 11th @ 6pm @ Frank Gallery Alternative and Legacy Processes --  With Alan Dehmer, Bryce Lankard, and Brady Lambert.

Fri. Oct 12th @ 6:30pm @ Frank Gallery Border Glitches: UNC MFA Visions in Contemporary Photography Recent technology has pushed or lives further into a pixelated space, blurring the line between our digital lives and our corporeality. Ali Halperin, UNC MFA candidate, leads a a discussion about with Seoun Som and Michael Lauch on how we perform our identities visually, digitally, and photographically within this schism.

Thurs. Oct 18th@ 6pm @ Frank Gallery -- Taming Technology for the Photographic Creative Process --  With: Goodloe Sutter: NASA software adapted for earth-based artists. Sam Kittner: DC based photographer-HDR Panorama Images Irene Owsley: Founding Board Member-Fotoweek DC -Extreme outdoor photography Shawn Rocco: News and Observer- Cell Phone photography

Fri. Oct 26th @ 6pm @ FedEx Global Center 301 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill -- George Stuart -Opening Reception: Carroll Hall- Rm 33, UNC campus CB 3365. Chapel Hill, NC.

Thurs. Nov. 1st @ 7pm @ Frank Gallery -- Documentary Storytelling and Social Change -- featuring StoryMineMedia, an independent company based in Carrboro, NC that partners with non-profits, foundations, and other organizations to create stories that move people to action. Kathryn Stein-Toward Healing: fistula patients in Malawi Catherine Orr- CDS: StoryMineMedia Elena Rue-Lewis Hines Fellowships at CDS, StoryMineMedia Moderator: Barbara Tyroler

Contact Information:

Bryce Lankard: brycelankard@mac.com -917-204-8165
Barbara Tyroler: btyroler@btyroler.com -919-360-8791

For complete and up to the minute information on the events and exhibitions and participant bios, please visit: http://frankinfocus.tumblr.com/

Slow Exposures 2012 on CNN

The Slow Exposures Festival of Photography in the Rural South opens September 21st in Concord, Zebulon, and Molena, Georgia.

There is a feature today on Slow Exposures 2012, with some images from the juried show, on the CNN blog, here. 
The full schedule of events is here.

This is a splendid event, not to be missed.

I first attended Slow Exposures in 2009. Getting work in that show was a catalyst for my decision to start this blog.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Susan Worsham at Light Work

Richmond, VA based photographer Susan Worsham will have a show of her work in the Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery at Light Work, the photography center at 316 Waverly Avenue, in Syracuse, NY.

The show features work from Worsham's  Bittersweet/Bloodwork portfolio, some of which is here. 

Worsham's show opens on September 4th and will be up through October 12th, 2012. There will be a reception with the artist in the gallery from 5-7 pm on September 13th. 

Worsham does powerfully personal, meditative work with friends, neighbors, and locations from her childhood in Richmond, Virginia. Her work will also be featured in issue 168 of Light Work's publication Contact Sheet

Worsham has had a splendid career of late as a photographer.  In 2009 she was nominated for the Santa Fe Prize for Photography, and her book Some Fox Trails In Virginia won first runner up in the fine art category of the Blurb Photography Book Now International Competition.

In 2010 Worsham was awarded the first TMC / Kodak Film Grant, and was an Artist-in-Residence at Light Work, in preparation for this exhibition.

She has also had exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery in Wahsington, DC, the Photographic Center Northwest, the  Dean Jensen Gallery in Milwaukee, and the Danville Museum, in, well, Danville, VA.

You can learn more about Worsham here, in an interview she did with Jonathan Blaustein on APhotoEditor.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Review -- New Southern Photography at the Ogden Museum

One of our readers sends along this review of the "New Southern Photography" show now up at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans.

Turns out the "New Southern Photography" show is only part of a much larger array of shows.

Here is the review:

 "The New Southern Photography" show, organized in three adjoining small rooms with maybe 40 photographs, is quite strong.

"To a piece, the work (including Donna Pinckney's image, above) demonstrates a higher degree of originality, technical competence, and maturity of vision than you might expect of a show mostly made up of comparative newcomers.

"Curator Richard McCabe has a fine eye for photographs, and he also knows how to do an installation.

"A second and larger show, the "Louisiana Contemporary," is a juried competition. It is artwork by the natives, and it also is strong, with a lot of good photography. It was so well put together (by the curator of the McNay in San Antonio) that you might conclude that the state somehow found a way to spawn artistic talent.

"Then, there is a third show, of photographs from the Ogden's permanent collection, of Louisiana work by Bellocq, Laughlin, Evans, and others. Worth seeing? Yes, and to paraphrase dear old Dr. Johnson, worth going to see.

"So, you should fly down, and enjoy all this. New Orleans itself will not leave you bored.

"Then, next year, you can come for the Ogden's openings of these shows, which are on White Linen Night, when thousands of white-clad art lovers descend on the Julia Street fine arts district to enjoy art, food and drink, and music.

"All three shows close the 3rd week of September."

My thanks for this review!

Reviews by other readers are certainly welcomed. I request only that they be reasonable, fair,  thoughtful, and descriptive.

Ralph Burns at Pink Dog Creative

Asheville photographer Ralph Burns just closed what looks like a really fine show of his black and white photographs at Pink Dog Creative, a gallery in Asheville.

Burns has been working as a photographer for a good long time, but this was his first solo show in North Carolina since 2005, and his first in Asheville since 1994, when he exhibited at the Blue Spiral 1 Gallery.

Burns has shown his work previously at places like the California Museum of Photography; The Cleveland Museum of Art; the Tate Gallery, in Liverpool; the Hokkaido Museum of Art, in Japan; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; the Honolulu Academy of Art; the  Contemporary Arts Museum, in Houston; the Asheville Art Museum, in Asheville; and the Southeastern Center of Contemporary Art, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Based on the work on the websites and in the exhibition catalog I've just received, this looks like it was a really strong show.

I only wish I had known about it earlier.  But at least we can make note fo it and look out for further shwos of this work.

You can learn more about Burns' work by reading the essay by J. Richard Gruber, Director Emeritus of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

As Others See Us -- Summer 2012

The travel writer Chuck Thompson has a new book out, reviewed in the New York Times, here, called Better Off Without 'em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession,  in which he proposes that both North and South in the United States would be better off if the South actually did secede.

Apparently Thompson been traveling through the South and noticed some things he's not happy with, or finds amusing, or disturbing, or annoying.

This book is probably worth a read. I have a copy on order. I don't want to comment on it directly since I haven't actually read it.

But I think you can get the flavor of it if you visit Thompson's promotional website where there are, to make this more relevant to this blog, 14 actual photographs which I gather Thompson made Down Here on his travels.

One can say, however, that this book joins a bunch of other books written by visitors to the South from John White,  John Lawson, and Alexis de Tocqueville to James Agee and V. S. Naipaul. My guess is, Thompson doesn't do much better at capturing Southernness than they did.

Someone writing on the Economist's blog nails folks like Thompson, thus. They "want the South to be an essence, not a messy mix of gays and straights, Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, atheists and Christians, readers and football fans."

And, as Karen L. Cox points out in her Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture  the South of folks like Thompson is a creation mostly of non-Southerners who need for there to be a place in their imagined USA to be the repository of everything wrong with the country.

In fact, the South, in a profound way, holds up to the rest of the country a mirror for contemplating who we are, and where we've been, and what its come down to.

Even the bleakest aspects of Southern history and culture are deeply engrained in the history of the rest of the nation, from the exploitation of native peoples to slavery to the devastation of the environment for short-term economic gain to political corruption and the use of political power to enhance the wealth of the wealthiest at the expense of the poorest among us.

What really annoys me are those Southerners who make a career out of performing stereotypical Southernness for non-Southerners who are looking for the entertainment value to be found in meeting Rhett or Scarlett or some good ole boys and girls.

When any of them come around, I remember what my father said. "Watch out, now," he'd say. "Watch out."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Catching Up on the News of the Week in Southern Photography

Several items of interest:

1. The folks behind the Gallery at Willjax in Cleveland, MS are opening a show of work by Magdalena Solé,
on August 23rd, 2012, from her portfolio New Delta Rising, up through September.

This show will be followed by a show in October and November featuring photographs by Kathleen Robbins from her portfolio Into the Flat Land, also work made in the Mississippi Delta.

2. Long-time western North Carolina photographer Rob Amberg has a new website, and a new blog.

3. Cary, NC-based photographer Roger May has interesting discussions up on his blog about William Gedney  photographing in Appalachia, go here and here.   There is also a related discussion on Fresh Air, here

4. Folks at FRANK, a gallery and artists' collaborative on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, NC, have just announced a two-month-long photography festival, called FRANK: In Focus, billed as "an in-depth exploration and celebration of photography."

FRANK: In Focus will begin September 5th and run through November 1st, 2012. Events will include panels, salons, presentations, special exhibitions, and a visit by Atlanta's peripatetic Jennifer Schwartz.

For more details, go here: http://frankinfocus.tumblr.com

 5. For those following the controversial ouster of founder Marc Smirnoff at the Oxford American, go here to the New York Times story, or here, to stories from Arkansas media, or here, for a story on Slate.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Noel and Lou in One: One Thousand for August

The New Orleans-based photo ezine One: One Thousand features work by Laura Noel and Richard Lou in its August issue, two photographers who are attuned to the nuances of Southern life in the early 21st century.

Atlanta-based photographer Laura Noel offers us her portfolio Smoke Break, in which she documents the particular life of people who, as Noel puts it, "continue to smoke cigarettes in the face of public condemnation."

I'm going to flat out say that I think Laura Noel's image Amy in her Back Yard (see above) is one of the great photographs of our time.

My response to this image is strong in part of course because, in North Carolina, tobacco shares with cotton the role of most distinctive agricultural product, with its own peculiar landscape and its own special culture, language, calendar, and expertise.

The earliest English colonists took North Carolina tobacco back to England in the 1580's and people have been hooked ever since. We live with God's little joke that the only things that grow well here are (of course) kudzu and tobacco.

Two of our major educational institutions, Duke University and Wake Forest University, were funded with tobacco money, and the most prestigious professorships at my home university are the R. J. Reynolds professorships. 

There is a reason for this -- the appeal of smoking, both social and biological, is undeniable. There is something very sensual as well as meditative about the act of smoking. There is also the social dimension, the performative character of smoking, that allows one to show off, to draw attention to oneself in the act of lighting up.

So the culture and practice of tobacco permeates the culture of North Carolina. Or at least it used to.

Now, of course, cultural standards have changed. Smokers, even here, have to go to special places set apart to practice what used to be acts that placed them at the center of attention.

Noel in these images captures well the appeal of smoking, but also the experience of being isolated, of having to leave the party, of being deprived of the social stage while one smokes.

More than that, in images like Amy in her Back Yard Noel nails the look of the smoker who is isolated by her practice but who also has complex reactions to being observed doing this smoking thing.

But what really gets me in Amy in her Back Yard is the dog, a dog right out of a George Booth cartoon, a dog whose position and posture in the frame carries much of the work of this image.

The dog's leash reminds us of the confinement now required of the smoker; the dog's pose, straining at that leash, suggests the yearning of the smoker for a cigarette. Everything in this image works together in really engaging ways. 

Memphis-based photographer Richard Lou's portfolio Ownership Society: A Conundrum explores the relationships among property, gun ownership, and race in our culture.

The gun is everywhere as the symbol of white power in Southern culture, from the dueling pistols of 18th century Tidewater aristocrats to the sporting guns of Southern bird hunters to the shotguns of the chain gang to Garden and Gun, the latest magazine to cater to Southern patrician wannabes.

Lou's images show us scenes that echo in their composition images familiar from the tradition of Western art depicting white people in power, starting,  as Lou notes, with Thomas Gainsborough's painting Mr. and Mrs. Andrews (1750), but also including Grant Wood's American Gothic (1930) and others.

In these images, however, the people who are armed are people of color. 

Lou says, this work embodies a personal journey into the questioning of received cultural understanding. "A white man holding a rifle in front of a large parcel of land,"  he writes, "conjures a feeling of 'rightness'" that he had to get beyond. 

"To understand this image and its unspoken power," he says, he "needed to subvert the figures by placing friends . . . within the frame in a somewhat similar fashion in regards to a simple reading of the subject matter.

Lou says he "was interested to see what happens when people of color are holding weapons on their property and how it would read. Would these new images invoke a similar bucolic image within the convention of portraiture or would another reading be elicited and what are these other readings referencing?"

And Lou leaves the question hanging. As well he might, leaving the question hanging there for us as well. 

These images remind us that the Southerners who are living lives of ownership and property today are as likely to be people of color as they are to be white.

One of the great challenges that continues to face those of us who live in the South is the challenge of making the transition to a culture in which the symbols and artifacts of power are not the sole possession of people whose ancestors came here from northern Europe.

The difficulties we are having in making this transition play out in the headlines every day, especially in this election season.

Lou offers us difficult, perceptive, challenging work. There is much to commend in this issue of One: One Thousand.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shelby Lee Adams on Flak Photo

Shelby Lee Adams was recently interviewed by Catherine Edelman on the website flakphoto in connection with a show of his work at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago and publication of his new book Salt and Truth.

 Adams has been photographing the people of eastern Kentucky for over three decades. You can read Edelman's interview with Adams, as well as see a generous selection of his work, here, on flakphoto.

Thanks to the fact that Edelman is a skillful interviewer, this conversation ranges widely over Adams' career, his relationships with his subjects, his photographic practice, and the controversies his work has evoked.

Adams' photographs of people who live in poverty in eastern Kentucky bring up a wide range of issues for many viewers.

My sense is that photographs share many characteristics with Rorschach ink blots. That is,  the things people think of to say about photographs are often more revelatory of viewers than they are of the subjects of the photographs they are looking at.

Adams' work can be challenging to those of us who choose, or have been given the opportunity, to live under very different cultural and economic circumstances from the folks whose lives are documented in Adams' work.

In Adams' work, I see someone who regards his subjects with dignity and respect, and who collaborates with them in the making of these images.

In the midst of all the conflict and anger and courage and shame and pride and envy and resentment of being Southern, I find Adams' craft and vision exemplary.