Thursday, June 5, 2014

Photographing the Delta -- Thibodeaux, Richards, Eich

Some folks say the Delta region of Mississippi and Arkansas is the most Southern place in the South.

It certainly is one of the most photographed regions of the South, and one of the most rewarding places for Southern photographers to work.

Here are some recent examples of folks who've earned major recognition for work in the Delta.

1. Dallas-based photographer Brandon Thibodeaux (see image above) has been named by the New Orleans Photo Alliance the 2014 recipient of a grant supported annually by the Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography.

Thibodeaux won this grant on the strength of his portfolio When Morning Comes, made in the Mississippi Delta.

The juror for this competition was Michael Famighetti, editor of Aperture, who said of Thibodeaux's work that it possesses "a quietness . . . from which it derives its strength.

"Religious symbolism threads the project: a modest church’s facade at night is illuminated by a street lamp; light cascades through cloud cover onto the Mississippi; light, almost magically, illuminates the beads adorning a young girl’s braids.

"The project alludes to past history and fraught racial politics that continue to mark the region, but mostly illuminates closely observed rhythms of daily life, community, and pride of place."

One of Thibodeaux's images from this portfolio was also featured as the PDN Photo of the Day on May 27th, 2014.

2. Honorary Southern Photographer Eugene Richards, also one of America's finest photographers, is having a show of his work made in the Arkansas Delta (see image above) from his portfolio Red Ball of a Sun Slipping Down at the Stephen Daiter Gallery, Suite 404, 230 W. Superior Street, in Chicago, opening this week, on June 6th, and up through August 3rd, 2014.  

Richards' work in this portfolio dates from the late 1960's through the recent past, and embodies his reflections on his long and distinguished career as a photographer. 

A book of work from this portfolio, also called Red Ball of a  Sun Slipping Down, will be published later this summer. 

3. Norfolk, VA-based photographer Matt Eich (see image above) has been featured twice in PDN's Photo Annual 2014, in both cases because of work from his portfolio of work exploring race and class disparities in Greenwood, MS.

One of Eich's images was delcared one of the best examples of work for 2014 in documentary photography.

Eich was also named a finalist in the competition for the Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture, based on this work. 

Since most of the photographs made in the Delta are made by white folks, and most of their subjects are black, the practice of photography is itself entwined in issues of race and class.

But that's true of everything in the South.

 For some very interesting discussions of the Delta and of the Southern condition, also known as the Southern dilemma, go here, to an essay in the Atlantic.

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