Saturday, February 27, 2016

David Levene finishes Road Trip through the South for the Guardian

London-based Honorary Southern Photographer David Levene and his colleague writer Matthew Teague have finished their journey through the American South for the Guardian newspaper.

We have commented on Levene's work before (go here).

Since Levene continues to do exceptional work, even as someone Not From Around Here, I thought it would be worth looking a bit more carefully at his work in and around Charlottesville, the last stop on his Southern journey.

Levene's portfolio of work made in Charlottesville is here.

We discussed several years ago the work of Martin Parr, another British photographer who did a turn in the South at the request of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Parr came to Atlanta, made a flying tour of the city, made images that look like the images he makes everywhere he goes, collected his check, and went home. 

We are none the better for his visit. 

Levene came here on assignment for the Guardian, clearly a person with the camera skills, the eye, and the vision to connect with the place in which he found himself.

In his work, we learn something about ourselves as Southerners. We are better for his time here.

Thanks, David, come back any time! Or, perhaps better, y'all come back to see us, ya heah!

Friday, February 26, 2016

More News of Southern Photographers -- Late Winter 2016

Several items worthy of our interest and attention, as the days begin to get longer and the red buds and daffodils begin to bloom.

1. Columbia, SC-based photographer Kathleen Robbins (see image above) is interviewed on the AUNTIEBELLUM ezine, here. 

This is a must-read. Please pay careful attention, especially,  to Robbins' account of her grandmother's story of a wild man who "who lived far away and deep in the woods in the top of a tree and in a hole." 

This account is about how a germ of an idea became a story that became woven into Robbins' childhood and into her understanding of herself, and her family, and of who her grandmother was. 

This is paradigmatic of how we in the South make meaning of our lives.

We make stories, and retell them. And of course we make images too. 

2. Richmond, VA-based photographer Susan Worsham (see image above) has been nominated for this year's Baum Award for an Emerging American Photographer, and she has a new website, too. Go here. 

3. Durham, NC-based photographer Aaron Canipe (see image above) has been interviewed on PhotoART Magazine, here. 

4. Memphis-based photographer Ariella Gibson (see image above) has had work from her developing portfolio exploring pleasure and pain featured on AINTBAD Magazine, here.

5. The truly wonderful Do Good Fund has its collection of Southern photography (see Jerry Seigel's image, above) featured on Jeff Rich's Eyes on the South, for the Oxford American, here.

This is in honor of the Do Good Fund's major exhibition now up in Athens, GA, through March of 2016. 

6. I'm still not sure Pittsburgh-based photographer Aaron Blum (see image above) is a Southern photographer, since he is Not From Around Here, and works chiefly in West Virginia, that state created specifically to avoid the defining experience of Southern history.

But Blum does good work in Appalachia, and lots of Appalachia is definitely in the South, and his work has been featured in the New Yorker, here.

So there you have it.

More news later, from The Southern Photographer. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Carrie Mae Weeks Receives National Artist Award for 2016

Honorary Southern photographer Carrie Mae Weems has received the National Artist Award for 2016. 

Weems received this award from the Anderson Ranch Arts Center,  which gives this award to recognize the contributions of artists who are innovators in their fields and across disciplines. 

Weems joins such distinguished artists as Cindy Sherman and Frank Stella as recipients of this award. 

Weems also received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2013. She is known especially for making images that examine issues of sexuality, identity, and family, all issues that are deeply ingrained in Southern history and culture.

Weems is especially known for her black-and-white images and videos that imbed the individual with larger historical narratives.

Congratulations to Weems for this high honor, and well-deserved recognition!

As Others See Us -- The Guardian's David Levene Photographs in the American South

England's Guardian newspaper has set out recently to become a truly international newspaper, with a much-enhanced web presence and a vastly expanded coverage of what is (from a British perspective) international news.

This means lots more coverage of events in the USA, and, right now, in the week before Super Tuesday, this means the Guardian is taking a close look at American South, because half of the states holding primaries on March 1st will be Southern states.

Two reporters for the Guardian --writer Matthew Teague and photographer David Levene -- have been on a road trip across the South.

They have stopped in Texas (see image directly above), Arkansas (see image directly below), Alabama (see image next below Arkansas), Georgia (see image at the top of this post), Tennessee (see next-to-last image in this post), and Virginia (see last image in this post).

Levene mostly makes images for the Guardian like this one (see below) of London's Oxford Circus.

But his take on Texas is here, Arkansas is here, Alabama is here, Georgia is here, Tennessee is here, and Virginia is here.  

Teague's stories, with additional photos by Levene, are here.

David Levene's work is clustered here, and truly extraordinary work it is.

I think that Levene is doing a remarkable job of doing important work in the American South. 

There is insight in these images, and understanding of what is important to notice when seeking to make meaning of our complex and paradoxical part of the world. 

The challenge of drive-by shooting is that the work one makes can so easily be superficial or cliche-ridden.  

Levene, to my eye, does a remarkable job of capturing the look and feel of both the rural and the urban worlds of today's South. 

Levene relies on familiar trances of Southern culture from time to time -- clever signs outside churches, abandoned places or rusted objects, people in camo hunting clothes -- but also shows remarkable vision, the ability to see and document a world very different from the world with which he is most familiar.

Levene especially excels in finding the Southern in the contemporary urban South, a landscape that always risks making Southern places look like everywhere else.

So, congratulations to Levene on his strong work, and to the Guardian for choosing to send him on this assignment.

I think Levene deserves to be seen as an Honorary Southern Photographer. 

I hope he comes back this way after this assignment is over. 

I think there is still important work for him to do in helping us make meaning of the American South.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

John Sarsgard -- Southern Photographer Moves North, Makes Good

Mississippi-born but now NYC-based photographer John Sarsgard has recently published a book of his elegantly-seen portraits of contemporary American poets, Like Musical Instruments, available from Kentucky's Broadstone Press.

Since my day job is as an English literature teacher, I'm fascinated with Sarsgard's portraits, and with his selection of poets. 

Sarsgard pairs each portrait with a poem by that poet, so we get a glimpse of each poet's world along with the portrait.

Sarsgard's book brings us a cross-section of contemporary American writing, ranging from folks who got their start in the 1950's, like Michael McClure (image directly above) to contemporary voices like Sylvia Gorelick (image two up) and
Erica Hunt (image below).

Sarsgard typically makes platinum prints, enriching the depth of his vision.

Good to see this work. I can only hope that John will shift his camera's gaze Southward to produce a companion volume of Southern poets.  

If he does, I've got a long list of names of folks he could start with

Friday, February 19, 2016

Even More News of Southern Photographers -- Mid-Winter 2016

Mississippi-based photographer Betty Press (see image above) has had photographs from her Mississippi: The Place I Live portfolio accepted into the permanent collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art

Johnson City, TN-based photographer Matthew Jessie (see image above) has had work from his Its Hills and Valleys portfolio featured in Aint Bad Magazine, go here

Nashville-based photographer Shawnee Brown (see image above) has had work from his Two Tales portfolio featured in Aint-Bad Magazine, here. 

Southern photographers to be included in Jeff Rich's Eyes on the South series on the Oxford American since last checked include the following:

Atlanta-based photographer Jonathan Kelso (see image above), with images from his I Want to Die A-Shouting portfolio

East Tennessee-based photographer Matthew Brown (see image above), with images from his Orientation portfolio.

Tampa, FL-based photographer Taylor Finke (see image above), with images from her Yell If You Think You Might Be Sinking portfolio.

Philadelphia-based photographer Dylan Safranek (see image above), with images from his This Is Home Now, Daniel portfolio.

Raleigh-based photographer Adam Bellefeuil (see image above), with images from his Cross Roads portfolio.

And that's at least some of the news of fine art photography in the American South. 

More to come, on The Southern Photographer!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

More News of Southern Photographers -- Mid-Winter 2016

Nashville-based photographer Tamara Reynolds is having a major solo show of her work at the Baldwin Photographic gallery on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro, now up through April 7th, 2016.

Reynolds will deliver an artist's talk in connection with this show, with a reception in the Gallery to follow, on February 22nd. 

Chapel Hill-based photographer Lori Vrba (see image above) is featured in the latest issue of Don't Take Pictures, here.

Vrba has been having an exceptionally rich and rewarding period in her photographic career, and it seems to keep on going and going. 

Good news, all around!

Oxford, Mississippi-based photographer Alysia Burton Steele (see image above) is among the recipients of this year's Humanities Awards from the Mississippi Humanities Council. 

Steele will be doing a workshop and signing copies of her award-winning book this Saturday February 20th, 2016, in Hattesburg, MS, go here for more details.

Steele received this award in the category Preserver of Mississippi Culture for her book  Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom

Raleigh's Diana Bloomfield (see image above) and Atlanta's Jennifer Schwartz (see image below), and perhaps other Southern photographers as well, have images in the on-line alternative processes show Intimate Alchemy, in Plates to Pixels Gallery, go here. 

More news to come! Check next post. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Southern Photographers Recently Featured in Lenscratch

Lenscratch is one of the most compelling and consistently interesting photography ezines available today, and it frequently features Southern photographers and photographers with Southern roots or connections. 

Here are a few folks whose work has been featuyred recently in Lenscratch. 

Raleigh-based photographer Shannon Johnstone (see image above) has had her book Landfill Dogs celebrated on Lenscratch, here. 

Florida-based photographer Sharon Lee Hart  (see image aboved) has been having fun doing work with water involved in the image, as backdrop or visual motif, and her work has been featured in Lenscratch, here.  

North Carolina-born but now living in California photographer Preston Gannaway (see image above) has been photographing along the coast of Virginia, and has work from her Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea portfolio featured in Lenscratch, here.

David Batchelder (see image above) is a photographer Who Is Not From Around Here, but he has been making some well-seen images of the beach at Isle of Palms, near Charleston, SC, now published in the book Tideland.

Batchelder is also featured in Lenscratch, here, as well as on Photoworks, here.

Congratulations to all these folks, and to Lenscratch, for paying attention. 

Jennifer Schwartz announces the Crusade Engagement Grant Program for 2016

Atlanta-based photography entrepreneur Jennifer Schwartz has announced the third iteration of her Crusade Engagement Grant program which offers a $10, 000 grant to develop and implement an innovative and effective way to connect audiences to photography. 

Schwartz and her colleagues say they are "looking for projects that focus on creating demand for photography and provide a concrete plan to create one-to-one connections between the photographer, the viewer, and the audience."

Schwartz used to run a first-class gallery in Atlanta, so she knows the value of good marketing and promotion. 

She's now seeking creative ways of developing new markets for art, and especially for fine art photography. 

The money's good, but as in so many competitions the most important lessons come through participation. 

To quote those obscure English philosophers Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "You can't always get what you want, but sometimes, if you try, you get what you need."

Full details here.