Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shannon Johnstone is Having a Year to Remember

Raleigh, NC based photographer Shannon Johnstone is having a year to remember. Her work has just been accepted into the ONWARD show early in 2010 at Project Basho in Philadelphia.

Earlier this year, her work was accepted for the International Photography Awards Competition, chosen by Henry Horrenstein for the Camera Club of NY National Juried Exhibition, and chosen by Deborah Willis for the NC Photographers Biennial Exhibition. She received Honorable Mention for her work in all these shows.

Johnstone was also named among the top 50 photographers in this year's Critical Mass selection process  run by Photo Lucida. In addition, her work was featured in Visual Overture magazine, including the cover shot in the Winter 2009 issue. She also had work on the cover of the North Carolina Literary Review and in the Slow Exposures show in Pike County, GA, a part of this year's Atlanta Celebrates Photography.

Johnstone teaches photography at Meredith College in Raleigh. She is definitely a Southern Photographer To Watch Out For.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dan Plunkett Photographs the South

Artists in the South are often working out their relationship to issues that are part of the region's culture and history.  Race is usually a concern, as are women and class and one's parents and the relationship between education and parochialism and four centuries of agony, rage, and oppression. Faulkner said that in the South the past isn't dead; it isn't even past. Being southern can seem a burden, even a curse. I don't know many southerners who really appreciate our history who can live comfortably with it.

This book of  photographs by Dan Plunkett contains work that is in the center of all these issues. Dan has been photographing in the South for a long time; he grew up in Louisiana and has worked as a laborer and has climbed the educational ladder from BA to MA to PhD and the economic ladder to professional success.

Yet Ryan Plunkett, his son, says the work in this book started with photographs of an abandoned sharecropper's shack but really got going when Plunkett photographed his father who had just thrown away a good job and ten years of sobriety for a new Oldsmobile and a week-long drunk.

Ryan says HIS daddy captures an "unquantifiable southern grace" in his photographs, documenting a "delicate mixture of sense and senselessness" that characterizes the South. Dan's father did, too, in his own way, especially the senseless part. Go here to check out Dan's efforts to come to terms with this legacy through his photography.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Art Basel Miami + Art Miami -- Is Miami in the South?

The Art World has come to Miami and Miami Beach for the annual Art Miami and Art Basel Miami Beach shows. And I do mean the Art World. Here is a list of galleries showing work at Art Basel Miami, a list that includes galleries from locales far distant from Miami, ranging from Paris, Munich, and London to NYC, Chicago, and San Francisco.

There is a lot of photography on offer here, much of it inspired, as so much of the fine art photography world seems to be right now, by the German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher and their students and fans, practitioners of typological photography, documentarians of all the ways the same thing can look.

One example of this concern for sameness is the image above, by Robert Volt, shown at Art Miami by the Amador Gallery of NYC. It is one of a series of his images all showing a cell phone tower made to look, sort of, like a tree. Go HERE for nine of his images, all of the same thing, shot under the same light, and composed in exactly the same way. 

Could there be a way of doing typological photography in the South? Given what some have called our interest in human beings and their differences, even the nuances of difference, even eccentricity, as a defining condition of life, is it possible that we are at a defining moment in the concept of southernness in fine art photography?

Has anyone photographed a series of images of all the ways kudzu can take over a landscape? Is it time?

Not too late for PhotoNOLA

Not too late to head for PhotoNOLA, the Big Easy's annual photography festival, now on through December 13th, 2009. PhotoNOLA is the third of the three major photography festivals held each fall in the southeast, beginning with ACP in October, Foto Week DC in November, and PhotoNOLA in December.

Events always include portfolio reviews, special exhibitions, lectures, and, often, an appearance by Mary Virginia Swanson (who always seems to be on the road -- does she live out of her portfolio?), as well as lots of opportunities to see new work and talk photography.

Works on exhibit this year include a showcase of work by eight members of the New Orleans Photo Alliance up at the Crescent City Brewhouse, 527 Decatur Street, in New Orleans. Exhibitors include Michelle Icahn, David Rae Morris, Owen Murphy, Jennifer Shaw, Jenn Ocken, Antonio Henriquez, Jennifer Zdon, and Renee Aille, whose image (above) looks like Christmas in New Orleans to me. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Susan Raab in Mississippi

Washington, DC based photographer Susan Raab has some strong work on her website made in Mississippi, including a portfolio about William Faulkner's house Roan Oak and another one documenting life at the Oxford, MS Sonic Drive-in.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mark Steinmetz Photographs the South

Athens, Georgia-based photographer Mark Steinmetz has just published Greater Atlanta (2009), a companion volume to two other books of photographs of the South, South East (2008) and South Central (2007) by Steinmetz.

In this work, Steinmetz continues in the grand tradition of B+W fine art photography, emphasizing street photography and natural-light portraits. The images in South Central were chiefly made in and around Knoxville, Tennessee; those in South East were made in Athens and the Atlanta area. The work in Greater Atlanta was made in, well, of course, greater Atlanta.

The images in these books involve the South in transition from rural to urban and from old to new, exploring the tensions, distractions, and dislocations that are part of that experience. For comments by Mark on this body of work, see the interview he did with Joerg Colberg of the Conscientious blog, HERE. My thanks, as always, to Joerg for his fine work.