Monday, March 19, 2012

The Oxford American's List -- the Rest of the Story

OK, with the current issue of the Oxford American in hand, I can report on the rest of the photographers on their list of 100 under 100: The New Superstars of Southern Art.

The are, as follows:

Nikita Gale
Leslie Burns
Tim Hussin
Wilmer Wilson IV
Jody Fausett
McNair Evans
Kelly Anderson-Staley
Jamie Baldridge

This makes a total of 30 photographers out of 100 people (or partnerships) on the Oxford American's list. Which, I guess, is a kind of recognition of photography's importance that is good for photographers in the South.

The printed edition of the magazine also makes clear that the Oxford American is not trying to establish a definitive canon of the South's best artists under 100 years old, as the title of the list implies, but instead to come up with a list of "new superstars," which is a different matter.

I have real trouble with lists like this one. On the one hand, there are a number of names here that I was previously not familiar with (much to my chagrin), and its always good to learn about more folks who are doing good work.

I think any kind of publicity in the arts is good for the folks who receive it, especially in the South, with our tradition of suspicion of the visual and the aesthetic. Glad to know the folks at the Oxford American are paying attention and are in an appreciative mood.

On the other hand, I can think -- without really trying very hard -- of a dozen or twenty-five or a hundred names of photographers working in the South who are doing splendid work, work especially deserving of inclusion on a list like this.

I suggest you check out the names that appear to the right of this message that do not appear on the Oxford American's list, if you need any proof of what I mean.

That said, lists are helpful to the folks who appear on the lists. Still, numbers like "100 under 100" are gimmicks of the publishing business.Editors think they generate excitement and sell copies.

As Walter Cronkite used to say, that's the way it is, in the world we live in, even in the South.

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