Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Opportunities in Southern Photography -- Shows Online and in the Galleries

A couple of opportunities for fame or for service to the cause! 

Tom Braswell, Director of the Wellington Gray Gallery at East Carolina University, in Greenville, NC, has announced the call-for-entries for the 9th Photographic Image Biennial Exhibition, to be held at the Gallery, opening in Januray and up through February of 2015. 

This Biennial is one of the major photography exhibitions in North Carolina. This year's show is being juried by Honored Southern Photographer Burk Uzzle

The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2014. You can find the Prospecus for this show, with all the details for submission of entries, here. 

Also,  the good folks at Southern Glossary have announced an Instagram site, and launched a search for people to serve as curators of the site.

Here is how they describe the position:

"Southern Glossary began just over a year ago with the idea of focusing on stories, artists, and performers from across a region instead of just in individual cities or towns. So, true to that mindset, we are looking for a variety of curators from all states in the south and across disciplines.

"While Instagram obviously favors the medium of photography, we are looking for more than that. We want to see the details of artists’ lives, their process, and their surroundings. Those are the same kinds of things we prioritize in our articles, and it’s how we want to differentiate our Instagram from others.

"Interested? Here’s what we’re looking for in a curator:
  • You’re an artist working in photography, visual arts, sculpture, or the documentary arts (sorry, no musicians or theater performers at this time)
  • You are a working (but not necessarily professional) artist with active projects
  • You already have an active Instagram account and are familiar with the app
  • You live in West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, or Kentucky
  • You can commit to a week of sharing content
"We are also interested in having people document special events & festivals."
If you are looking for an opportunity to try your curatorial skills, here's your chance. For more details, go here. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Uzzle, Robbins, Heagins, Curry -- Southern Photography People Being Interviewed

Several distinguished Southern photographers -- and one distinguished organizer of photographic events -- have been interviewed online lately.

Honored Southern photographer Burk Uzzle (see image above) is interviewed n the Heavy Collective blog out of Australia.

The Heavy Collective interview surveys Uzzle's work, as he puts it, chronicling his "many decades of wrangling with photography and somehow winding up in Wilson, NC."

Kathleen Robbins (see image above) is having a show of work from her Into the Flatland portfolio now up through October 24th, 2014, at  the Baum Gallery at the University of Central Arkansas.

Robbins is interviewed about her career and about this work on the Oxford American website, here. 

Distinguished North Carolina photographer Titus Brooks Heagins (see image above) is having a show of his work made while working on the African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina project for the North Carolina Arts Council.  

Heagins' work is part of a group show at the Miriam Block Gallery in Raleigh, NC, up now through November 14th, 2014.

You can see and hear an interview with Heagins about ths work in this show on the video above. The interview with Heagins is the second of three interviews on this video, starting about18 minutes and 20 seconds into the video. 

Finally, the annual Slow Exposures show and photography festival is now up and going strong in Pike County, Georgia.

You can see images of this years' goings-on here. You can read an interview with Chris Curry, one of the original founders of Slow Exposures on The Eye of Photography blog, here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Searching the Archives: Recovering the Southern Past through Photography

London's Rivington Place -- a "public space dedicated to diversity in the visual arts" -- is the site right now of a remarkable exhibition of photographs called Black Chronicles II, assembled by Autograph ABP, a British organization dedicated to "the mission of advocating the inclusion of historically marginalised photographic practices."

Autograph ABP "is a charity that works internationally in photography, cultural identity, race, representation and human rights."

Black Chronicles II, according to the folks at Autograph ABP, contains over 200 photographs, mostly taken toward the end of the 19th century in portrait studios in London, that together create "a comprehensive body of portraits depicting black people in Britain prior to the beginning of the second world war." 

This work  "explores black presences in 19th and early 20th-century Britain, through the prism of studio portraiture, contributing to the writing of black photographic history."

These images "present new knowledge" because they "offer different ways of seeing the black subject in Victorian Britain, and contribute to an ongoing process of redressing persistent ‘absence’ within the historical record."

This show is the result of an ongoing program conducted by Autograph ABP to explore archives in search of  "images which have been overlooked, under-researched or simply not recognized as significant previously, but which are highly relevant to black representational politics and cultural history today."

You can read more about this show here, and see more of the images here, both stories from the Guardian newspaper. 

I bring this show -- and this project -- to our attention in part because the photographs in this show are stunning, in part because the relevance of this work to the work of Southern photographers is painfully obvious, but also because work in the archives of photography seems to be very much of this moment.

For example, the folks at the History Hub in Durham, NC have had on exhibit this past summer a show of portraits taken by the Durham-based photographer Hugh Mangum in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Mangum was photographing people of color at exactly the same time as the folks working in England who are featured in the Autograph ABP show. Images from the two shows are hauntingly similar.

Mangum was capturing images of Southerners precisely at the time when Southern states were, as the show's curator Sarah Stacke reminds us, "introducing legislation that enforced segregation - restaurants, shops and hotels had to provide separate facilities for black and white people. Marriage between races was illegal, separate schools were established and public transport was divided."

"The effort to disenfranchise the African-American population in the region was underway," notes Stacke, but Mangum's work appears to show that he was a photographer who dismissed this widespread prejudice. 

"Hugh Mangum created an environment that was respectful and very often playful in which people could genuinely reveal themselves - men and women, rich and poor, black and white," according to Stacke.

Stacke suggests Mangum's work shows us that at this point "African-Americans were really harnessing the power of photography to challenge racial ideas and they were using the images to visually create and celebrate black identity."  

The BBC has noticed the Durham History Hub's show of Mangum's work, and has a long, detailed account of it, here.

Hugh Mangum's work is in the Archives at Durham's Duke University, where the good folks have digitized it and put it all on line for us to see, go here.

To continue this theme of discovering a living past in the archives, Atlanta's High Museum of Art is featuring this fall an exhibition of rediscovered work by the distinguished African-American photographer Gordon Parks (see image above). 

Entitled Gordon Parks: Segregation Story, the show opens on November 15, 2014 and will be up through June 7, 2015.

The focus of this show will be on a body of work -- including over 40 color photographs -- that Parks created for Life Magazine in the 1950's,  documenting the scandal of American apartheid.

Life published Parks' images in a special article documenting the lives of an extended African-American family in segregated Alabama, then stored away his work, allowing it to languish in the magazine's archives until they were rediscovered in 2012.

According to the folks at the High, this series of images represents one of Parks' earliest social documentary studies on color film.  

As they note, "The images provide a unique perspective on one of America's most controversial periods. Rather than capturing momentous scenes of the struggle for civil rights, Parks portrayed a family going about daily life in unjust circumstances." 

In this work, we are told, we see how "Parks believed empathy to be vital to the undoing of racial prejudice. His approach to the Life project . . .  represented an important chapter in Parks' career-long endeavor to use the camera as a "weapon of choice" for social change. The images he created offered a deeper look at life in the Jim Crow South, transcending stereotypes to reveal a common humanity."

So, from London to Durham to Atlanta, the archives are yielding strikingly contemporary glimpses of people and cultures long past -- so, I guess, it's not just the South where, as Faulkner put it,  "the past is never dead. It’s not even past."

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Do Good Fund for Southern Photography

Folks in Georgia have started the Do Good Fund, which is about helping Southern photographers earn recognition, exhibitions, and lines in their resumes. 

Or, as they put it, 

"The Do Good Fund, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) public charity based in Columbus, Georgia. Since its founding in 2012, the Fund has focused on building a museum-quality collection of contemporary Southern photography, including works by emerging photographers.

"Do Good's mission is to make these works broadly accessible through regional museums, nonprofit galleries and nontraditional venues, and to encourage complimentary, community-based programming to accompany each exhibition."

I gather the Do Good Fund has been collecting works by Southern photographers for 2 years. You can see their acquisitions in 2013 here and in 2014 here

Images now in the collection include work by the following photographers:

That's a fine collection of folks. To help these Do Gooders grow the collection and carry out their mission of bringing Southern photography to a wide circle of folks, contact them here:

The Do Good Fund, Inc.
P. O. Box 2707
(233-12th St., Suite 500)
Columbus, GA 31902 (31901)

The Do Good Fund has just announced that they are adding to the collection a set of images by Gordon Parks, from his Segregation Series Portfolio.  

The Do Good Fund has begun to show its collection in exhibitions, first at this year's Slow Exposures, and at other venues, upcoming, as follows:

Brought to Light - Slow Exposures 2014 - Whiskey Bonding Barn, Pike County, GA, September 19-28, 2014. Opening Reception, this Saturday, September 20th, 5:30-7pm.

Southern Exposures: The Do Good Fund Photographs - Lamar Dodd Art Center, LaGrange College, LaGrange, GA, October 6 -December 19, 2014. Opening Reception, October 24th, 6-9pm.

Behind the Lens: Women Photographers on Appalachia and the South - Tipton St. Gallery, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, March 2-29, 2015. Opening Reception, March 6, 2015.

These folks are truly Doing Good, and their efforts are truly worthy of our support. Let's see what we can do!

Pamela Peccicho is Having a Very Busy 2014, and It's Only September

Charlottesville-based photographer Pamela Pecchio is having a very busy 2014. Here are some of the things she has been up to.

Pecchio had work in two group shows this summer, one at Aperture in New York City and the other at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Massachusetts.

 She opens a show of work in Cologne, Germany this weekend, together with Dave Woody and William Wylie.

The show is called Beyond Reach: Pamela Pecchio, Dave Woody and William Wylie, opening September 14th and up for a week at Koeln Art Projects in Cologne, as part of the  Photoszene-Festival 2014

Pecchio will also have a solo show of work from her Inheritance portfolio in the Rowe Art Gallery at the University of North Carolina campus in Charlotte, NC, opening September 29th and up through October 29th, 2014.

Pecchio's image The Center of Attention is in a group show sponsored by the Humble Art Foundation entitled New Cats in Art Photography.
Peccicho's image Mitchell's Arm (see image above) has recently been added to the collection of the Do Good Fund.

It will be included in two shows of work from the Do Good Fund's collection. 

The first one is called Brought to Light,  at this year's Slow Exposures Festival, opening in the Whiskey Bonding Barn on September 20.

The other is in a show at the Lamar Dodd Art Center at LaGrange College, in Lagrange, GA, up during the months of October and November, 2014.

So much good work, and its only September!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Southern Photographers in the News, Late Summer, 2014

A number of Southern photographers are being featured on the Internet and in the galleries this fall.

Here are a few examples:

Savannah-based photographer Meryl Truett  (see image above)  is currently featured on the Lens Culture blog, here

Mississippi-born photographer Whitten Sabbatini (see image above) and SCAD-trained but now Iowa City-based photographer Jeff Rich have made the short list of London's Telegraph newspaper's feature Fifteen Photographers to Watch. 

Sabbatini is also about to launch a solo exhibition of his photographs at the Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, TN (opening October 4th, 2014 and up through January 4th, 2015). 

Rich (see image above) is about to open two shows of images from his Watershed Project portfolio. 

One is at the Eli Marsh Gallery, at Amherst College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, opening September 25th and up through October 9th, 2014. 

The other is at the Mesaros Gallery at West Virginia University, in Morgantown, WV, opening October 16th and up through December 9th, 2014.

Also in the galleries, Georgia-based photographer Tim McCoy (see image above) will be having an exhibition of his  gold-toned albumen portfolio of gold-toned albumen prints, Long, Long Journey to the Sea, at the Ursuline Hall Gallery, Southwest School of Art, San Antonio, TX.

This show is up now, through November 9th, 2014. 

News just in -- newly-minted Virginian Eliot Dudik (see image above) is having a show of images from his Broken Land and Still Lives portfolios at this year's Slow Exposures Festival in Pike County, GA, curated by the estimable John Bennette

Dudik's portfolios engage questions of the Civil War and its legacy, especially in terms of that war's engagement with the history of photography. The images in Broken Land are, literally, divided landscape photographs of Civil War battle sites, while the images in Still Lives are portraits of Civil War reenactors.

For details on all the events at Slow Exposures, go here or here

Mr Bennette also brings to our attention the fact that Richmond, VA-based photographer Gordon Stettinus  had a show of his images (see above) earlier this summer at the Robin Rice Gallery in NYC. 

And also, the ezine Lenscratch has done a feature story on the Aint Bad Magazine's American South issue -- all that here.

Finally, for now, the New Orleans-based photographer Kevin Kline (see image above) is the latest shooter to be featured on Jeff Rich's Eyes on the South blog for the Oxford American.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alysia Burton Steele -- Jewels in the Delta

Oxford, MS-based photographer Alysia Burton Steele is having an exceptional 2014, getting wide recognition for her splendid portfolio of images entitled Jewels in the Delta.

Steele's work has been featured in the New York Times, on the news and culture blog The Root, on Jean Nash Johnson's blog eRace your isms, and in Southern Living

This attention is well-earned, well-deserved. Jewels in the Delta is an extraordinary accomplishment, well worthy of our attention. 

Steele is a professor of photojournalism at the University of Mississippi, and has wide experience as a photojournalist and photo editor. She was part of the photojournalism team at the Dallas Morning News that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. 

Now that she has joined the academy, her own photography has taken a distinctively personal turn, creating documentary work characterized by a deep engagement with her subjects and a desire to learn through them and their stories something of Steele's own history.

Steele grew up in Pennsylvania, reared from the age of 3 by her grandmother, a native of South Carolina. Steele's grandmother died before Steele was old enough and had acquired the perspective needed to make sense of her grandmother's experience and to understand what it might tell her about her heritage as a child of Southern background.

By moving to Oxford, Mississippi, Steele found herself living next door to the Delta, that part of the South some call the "most Southern place on earth." 

The people Steele has gotten to know, in working on Jewels in the Delta, are the church mothers of black Baptist congregations in the Delta, over 50 of them, who have shared their stories with Steele while she made their portraits.

Church mothers, I learn from Steele's project, are leaders in their church communities, recognized for their skills in organizing programs, providing comfort and support to those in need, helping preserve traditions, and inspiring young women in their communities. 

Jean Nash Johnson, in her profile of Steele, describes how she is able to capture in this work these women's "directness, fortitude, beauty, and sense of their place in history."

In Jewels in the Delta, Steele finds a way to do a number of things simultaneously -- to bring us beautifully seen images but also to bring to our attention a remarkable group of people and to understand through them at least something of her grandmother's generation and the role of women in Southern religious culture.

Their legacy turns out to be a Southern legacy, a legacy Steele herself shares with her grandmother as Southerners, whether by birth or by adoption.

As Steele says, "These stories are important because they are stories about love, loss, education, voting rights, sharecropping, raising children and everything else that comes from living in the Jim Crow era."

"I call them "Jewels in the Delta," says Steele, "because that's what they are. The backbone to their communities, the matriarch of their families, an under-represented group of people in mainstream media. They are church mothers and they matter."

Part of Steele's project includes recording the voices of her subjects. One goal of her work is to provide a venue for the voices as well as the images. For the flavor of those voices. watch the video, imbedded below.

In this body of work, Steele joins Kathleen Robbins, Roger May, and a number of other Southern photographers working today in making their work both aesthetically compelling and personally engaged, at the deepest level.  

The level of personal engagement here brings a number of riches to the work. 

Lots of fine art photography today starts with ideas, with concepts. One might decide the concept was to document crossroads, or intersections, and then go out to photograph a lot of crossroads. 

Sometimes this produces compelling work; sometimes it produces a set of banal illustrations of the idea. 

I once saw a set of images that showed lots of blackness, with the occasional white mark. They turned out to be photographs of road surfaces where terrible accidents had happened. 

These images, when experienced after one knew the idea, were sort of engaging. I thought, terrible things happen in the most ordinary of places. But without the idea, they were just images of one damn piece of road after another. 

In Steele's work, the concept, or the unifying idea, is not an abstract concept, but in Steele's engagement with the people who tell their stories and share their worlds, and help the photographer find her way.

Also, lots of folks photograph in the Mississippi Delta, and for lots of good reasons. I think many of the photographs they take are fine photographs, and I would not be without them. 

But many of the photographs of the Delta I have seen were made by people who flew in, made their work, and flew out. They are photographs of the Delta as that strange, exotic, other place. They were made to be shown to people who shared with the photographer a place and a view of the world significantly different from the world of the Delta. 

For folks like Robbins and Steele, their work in the Delta is about finding what it means to be home, to be who you are in your own skin and in your own place, living with the South's painful and conflicted history, and getting on with your life. 

Those are distinctively Southern concerns. Photographers who engage those concerns help us find our way.

 You will find more on Alysia Steele here.

Steele will be publishing a book of her images, and of the voices of her fellow Mississippians. I look forward its publication with great anticipation.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

S[x]SE for Early Fall 2014

The latest issue (Volume IX, Issue 5) of South by South East (S[x]SE) Photography Magazine is now out for early fall of 2014, and it has all the fine photography and engaging features we have come to expect from S[x]SE.

Editor Nancy McCrary likes to say of S[x]SE that "From gallery shows to museum exhibitions, book reviews, photo festivals, the best of the blogs written about Southern photography, interviews with gallery directors, photographers, museum curators and collectors of the South, along with articles and galleries of 9 – 12 featured artists."

McCrary says,  if you are interested in photography from "Miami to Washington, Dallas to Savannah," she's "got you covered."

McCrary builds this issue around conversation with major figures in the world of contemporary photography, most but not all of whom work in the South.

The issue opens with Barbara Griffin's long interview with Atlanta-based photographer Lucinda Bunnen, then shifts to a series of portfolios of younger Southern photographers who have been recommended by older Southern photographers. 

In this section, we get to see work by Rusty Miller (recommended by Susan Todd-Raque), Rusty Yates (see image directly above, recommended by Amanda Smith), Barbara Lee Black (recommended by Chip Cooper),  Kevin Kline (recommended by Jennifer Shaw), Tamara Reynolds (see image below, recommended by Jerry Atnip), and Kristin Bedford (see image at top) and Lee Dunkel (both recommended by Burke Uzzle).

In addition to all this fine photography there are all the interviews, reviews, discussions, and conversations we have come to expect, and value, from S[x]SE.

And you can have access to all this fine -- and award-winning -- work for a very reasonable fee, a very reasonable fee indeed.

To subscribe, to do the right thing, go here.

Don't put it off any longer. We Southern photographers need to support our basic institutions.

You know you should subscribe. You know it, you really do.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dorothea Lange on PBS

Dorothea Lange's career as a photographer was the subject of a recent episode of the PBS series American Masters, entitled Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning

You can see the show in its entirety as well as learn a great deal more about Dorothea Lange by going here, to the American Masters website. 

Made by Lange's granddaughter (and award-winning documentary film maker) Dyanna Taylor, this is a powerful and compelling documentary film, 

Taylor covers the full range of Lange's career, from her early days as a portrait photographer, to her Depression-era photojournalism and her work for Roy Stryker and the FSA, to her later work documenting the Japanese internment camps during World War II and her environmental photography documenting the impact of industrializaation and dam construction on people and the land.  

Lange is best-known for her work made in the American Southwest and on the West Coast (Her most famous image Migrant Mother was made in California), but, as Taylor points out, she made frequent trips to the American South.

Lange's work in the South documents the lives -- and living conditions -- of working class Southerners during the Depression, as well as the power relations in which their lives were immersed (see image above, of a plantation overseer and some of his employees, made in the Mississippi Delta in 1936).

One of the things I learned from Taylor's film about her grandmother was that she was deeply concerned to make sure she enabled us to hear the voices of her subjects as well as to see their faces. 

The book she did with her second husband Paul Taylor -- American Exodus -- is as full of quotations from her subjects as it is with her photographs. 

I think there is a profound lesson here for all of us who make photographs of people different from ourselves -- different in terms of class, race, gender, or any of the many ways people can be thought different -- especially when -- as I suspect is the case for most of us -- we expect to be showing our images to people who are likely to be more like us than like our subjects.  

People different from us are not there to help us make our careers, or to help us solve our personal problems, or to provide us or our kind with the experience of observing the different or the exotic or the other. 

We are in fact at their service, and carry with us the responsibility to accord them the dignity and respect we all deserve, and perhaps to help them communicate their value, our common value, as human beings. That's a challenge we as photographers in the American South all face.

One of the really amazing things about the way the FSA worked, back in the 1930's, is that the enormous body of work Lange made in that time, and that Walker Evans, and Marion Post Wolcott, and all the other photographers who worked for Roy Stryker and the FSA made in that time, were done on contract to the federal government.

That means their work -- brilliant work, work that defines photography as both craft and vocation and art -- is our common possession. Its all stored in the Library of Congress, which has digitized it all, and made it available to us.

So if you go here -- to the Prints and Photographs Online Catalogue -- you can find all their work, all those iconic and still deeply compelling images. 
In Taylor's film, we hear Florence Thompson, the woman in Lange's image, express her unhappiness at becoming the icon of the Great Depression to millions of Americans. She is understandably upset that she never made any money out of it. To which Lange replied, "I didn't either."

And that's true, but great art, of the unique and distinctive kind represented by Migrant Mother, is probably best held as our common property. 

If you look around on the Library of Congress' website, for example, you will find the original negative of Lange's Migrant Mother digitized, and downloadable in a 56 MB tiff file (that's a 1800 dpi scan of the negative, which translates into a 23 x 28 inch print at 300 dpi). 

Which means, you can make your own print of Migrant Mother, probably larger, and sharper, and cleaner than Lange herself ever saw it.

You need to see Taylor's film -- an inspiration, a challenge, a warning, a compelling demonstration of the power of art, and of photography -- Dorothea Lange. 

The Southern Photographer at ACP!

The Southern Photographer has just accepted a gracious and very kind invitation from the folks at ACP to join the distinguished cast of reviewers at this year's Portfolio Review, in Atlanta, on October 11th, 2014, at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center. 

I'm looking forward to seeing some fine photography, and also to meeting in person folks whom I've gotten to know through this blog. 

I'm especially interested in seeing coherent and well-thought-out bodies of work that engage issues of the Southern experience (or the experience of being Southern)  from a multitude of perspectives and viewpoints, whether aesthetically or technically considered.

I am also perfectly agreeable to looking at work made elsewhere or with other agendas.

Mainly, I'm looking forward to being part of ACP this year. Please come say hello! 

ACP, CLICK!, PhotoNOLA -- Festivals of Photography, Fall 2014

Photography festivals continue to proliferate across the South. This is Good News, at least to us in the photography community.

The Daddy Rabbit (as my father used to say) of them all is of course Atlanta Celebrates Photography, which will take over the art scene in Atlanta during the month of October.  

This is ACP's sixteenth year in existence, and it keeps getting bigger and better. There will be all the events one would expect, including museum and gallery shows, a portfolio review, lectures, an auction of photographs, a book fair, a film series,  and more, so much more.

It has in fact burst the boundaries of October, with events under its umbrella taking place both before and after the month of October itself. This year there will be events at over 120 different venues across Atlanta and into the surrounding Georgia countryside.

You can find the official ACP Guide to this year's festival here. There is a brief guide to the major events here and the Festival's Blog, here.

Also in October this year will be the launching of a new and ambitious regional photography festival in North Carolina. 

CLICK! Triangle Photography Festival will feature exhibitions, talks, and other photography-related events at museums, galleries, and other venues across North Carolina's Research Triangle region.

Sites for major shows include the Ackland Museum in Chapel Hill, the Nasher Museum and the Durham Arts Guild in Durham, and the Contemporary Art Museum, the Gregg Museum of Art and Design, and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.

For a full listing of events, consult the Calendar of Events, here. See also CLICK!'s blog, here.

December will bring PhotoNOLA, scheduled in New Orleans for December 4-7, 2014. PhotoNOLA also brings exhibitions, talks, and other photography-related events at museums, galleries, and other venues in New Orleans, including especially the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Louisiana State Museum.

For a full listing of exhibits,go here.  For the full calendar of events, go here.  For all the latest news on PhotoNOLA, go here.