Saturday, May 28, 2011

Farnell & Powell on a Sunday Drive on One One Thousand

Atlanta-based photographers Cynthia Farnell and Dan Powell show work from their Sunday Drive series of images made on the rural back roads of South Carolina and Georgia, on One One Thousand, the New Orleans-based webzine of Southern photography. 

In these images, Farnell and Powell record their discovery of the rural or small-town South, which they experience as "a parallel universe, sealed off from the suburbanization and development that is happening along the major interstates" . . . a "quiet" place that "makes you aware of yourself in a way that can be uncomfortable."

Yes, aspects of the small-town and rural South can seem odd, arresting, even disturbing on first discovery.  To a lot of us, the world depicted in these images will look a lot like home. And, of course, home can feel pretty strange as well. Wasn't it Thomas Wolfe, a native of Asheville, NC, who claimed you can't go home again.

Which makes one wonder where people are living, and how, if they live in their native place, or region. But, in any case, these images, for Farnell and Powell,  are "driven by curiosity . . . small discoveries, places and things that we have stumbled upon by accident. Something about them has caught our attention, called to us to stop and look."

Farnell and Powell are discovering the South after having been educated in photography at places like  Dartmouth, and Rhode Island, and New York City.

I say, welcome to the South, folks. It will be interesting to see how your perceptions change as you get to know us better.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Look3 Festival of Photography is upon Us

This year's Look3, the festival of photography in Charlotesville, VA, runs June 9-11, 2011.

This year's Festival features Mary Ellen Mark, Sally Mann, Massimo Vitali, Antonin Kratochvil, Nan Golden,Steve McCurry, and a whole slew of other photographers.

Downtown Charlottesville will be transformed into a photographer's dream destination, with exhibitions, workshops, talks, and informal gatherings everywhere you turn.

Passes are going fast! This is not to be missed, if you can possibly avoid it.

Eliot Dudik in EXPOSURE 2011 in Boston

Congratulations to Savannah, GA, photographer Eliot Dudik, whose work has been accepted for the EXPOSURE 2011 show at the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University.

Eliot's work, as well as the work of nine other photographers, was included in the show by the juror, Whitney Johnson, who is picture editor at The New Yorker.

The exhibition runs from Thursday, July 21 to Sunday, August 21, at the Photographic Resource Center. There will be an opening reception at the PRC on Thursday, July 21.

This is exceptionally good news for Eliot. Congratulations all around.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Civil War Photographs at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is having an exhibition of Civil War portraits, up now through August 13th, 2011.

The exhibition of over 400 photographs is entitled The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs from the Liljenquist Family Collection. Items in the exhibition are part of a large, and exceptionally important, gift to the Library of Congress of over 700 images collected by the Lljenquist family.

Tom Lljenquist and his sons Jason, Brandon, and Christian have amassed this extraordinary collection of images, to which they continue to add, as a way to remind us that the soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War were human beings, much like ourselves, each of whom had a very personal story.

Portraits in this collection include images of Union and Confederate soldiers, as well as rare images of African-American soldiers. Images also document the grief of those back home at the death of over 600,000 soldiers on both sides in the War.In these images, the soldiers, including the Confederate soldier pictured above, look so confident, determined, and well turned out, as they went off to the hell of war and to the agonies of survival or death.

The Library of Congress says that the Liljenquists became interested in Civil War history after finding bullets and other signs of an encampment near their home in Virginia. They became especially interested in the images captured in the photographic formats called ambrotypes (on glass) and tintypes (on metal).

The Library of Congress' extensive website for this exhibition includes the Liljenquist family's reasons for collecting the photographs and donating them to the Library. Visit

The entire Liljenquist Family Collection is viewable at the Prints and Photographs Division online at

The exhibition's Press Kit is available here:

Also, images in the collection can be seen through Flickr Commons, where viewers can assist in identifying individuals and photographers based on such clues as painted backdrops and regimental insignia.

To view the photos at Flickr Commons, visit  .

Much, much here for contemplation, especially for those of us whose ancestors fought in the Civil War.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Southern Photographers Win PDN's Photo Annual 2011 Awards

PDN's annual Year in Photography issue is out.

Southern photographers winning awards include Tierney Gearon in the Magazine/Editorial category, William Christenberry in the Photo Book category (for his Kodachromes volume, see above), and Matt Eich in the Photojournalism/Documentary category.

I'm sure I've missed someone. Please send corrections and additions.

Southern Spaces on the Civil War

The Civil War defines the American South more profoundly than any other historical event. What one makes of it, how one is connected to it, how one thinks of the past, the present, and the future in relation to it, are all at the core of our sense of Southern identity, Southern culture, Southern meaning, Southern prospects.

Southern Spaces does fine work, and this week it has published a very thoughtful essay by Edward Ayers of the University of Richmond comparing the observation of the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War versus the way it was done at the 100th anniversary fifty years ago.

Ayers evokes the work of photography when he reaches his conclusion about "the problem of memorializing contested and painful history":

"No matter how much organizers strive to acknowledge the profound human costs and stakes in the Civil War, the programs are, inevitably, unequal to the task. Words and symbols and good will, museums and lectures and conversations, cannot atone for centuries of injustice, and no one thinks they can. No integrated church service, concert, or program, no matter how powerful, can or should erase history. Skeptics of all political persuasions can easily cast every representation of the war and slavery as inadequate, which of course they are.

"Monuments have fallen mute. Our faith in buildings and enduring symbols has been shaken. No one knows what a statue of the contradictions at the heart of the American Civil War might look like, how to symbolize a war that began so haphazardly, that cost such an unanticipated loss of lives, that ended with the surprising and precious redemption of emancipation. The technicolor clarity of 1961 has turned to muted sepia, the image blurred at the borders. The subject demands a more powerful lens and a steadier focus than we possess."

Photography has been central to the imagining and imaging of the American South since before the Civil War. Accepting Ayers' point that no one knows what a [work of art] that captures the contradictions at the heart of the American Civil War -- and thus Southern culture -- might look like, are there photographers who have done a better than average job of this?

Aaron nominates Sally Mann's Battlefields series, so I've included one of her images from Antietam, above. Other nominations, Please. 

Joanna Knox at the Athenaeum Gallery

Mr. Bennette, patron saint of the Slow Exposures rural Southern photography festival, brings our attention this week to the work of Joanna Knox, who has a show of work up now through May 29th, 2011, entitled Seen and Unseen, at the Athenaeum Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

Joanna photographs spaces and places and things that have seen better days, that mark in their materiality the passage of time. Indeed, she says that she is fascinated "with the effects of time [and] of abandoned spaces."  She searches for "details of another time," for "what life was like for the people who lived in [those] spaces."

For Joanna, interiors of "abandoned structures are symbols of our own mortality" that "remind us of our past and simultaneously foreshadow our own growing age and death." The subjects of my photographs are not the walls themselves, rather the light contained by them."

These are all perennial Southern concerns, and Joanna photographs the light as it reveals traces of time's passing with an elegance and grace that mirror age-old Southern habits of seeking dignity in the midst of loss and scarcity. There is a strong touch of the elegiac in this work, an effect of an able compositional eye that puts things in the right place in the frame and finds the right moment of illumination to make this work's fading grandeur to show through.

Joanna now works in Rockville, Maryland, but she was trained as a photographer at the Savannah College of Art and Design and has done much of her photography in the back roads of Georgia in various abandoned farmhouses. According to the Athenaeum, one of her favorite techniques is "to set up her 4x5 camera in a decaying room, put the dark cloth over her head and see the light form an image with her old-fashioned camera."

She's a Southern photographer whom we are just getting to know, and we expect much more good work.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Jimmy Williams Featured in LensWork 93

The exquisite B&W images of Raleigh-based photographer Jimmy Williams are featured on the cover and in a feature article in the latest issue -- March/April 2011 -- of LensWork Magazine, HERE.

The full article (downloadable from the website as a PDF file) includes a long interview with Williams conducted by LensWork editor Brooks Jensen.

Beautiful work here! Congratulations to Jimmy Williams for the recognition and to LensWork for featuring this fine Southern photographer.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sanders McNew Photographs in the South

Large format photographer Sanders McNew used to work in Manhattan but he's from Virginia and his wife is from North Carolina and they've recently moved to Boca Raton, Florida.

So I will claim him as a Southern photographer.Th e image above was made at his wife's home in Madison County, NC.

Sanders does exquisite B&W work. His work has been featured in View Camera Magazine. 

Sanders also has great skill in portraiture, able to capture remarkable nuances of expression in his subjects, most of whom are in situations that would make me feel very uncomfortable, on either side of the camera.

Sanders seems able to put everyone at ease.

There is a story about Sanders and his work on The Online Photographer blog.

He's done two books with Blurb, HERE. You can find more of Sanders' work on Flickr.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lori Waselchuk Photographs in the South

Philadelphia-based photographer Lori Waselchuk has a new portfolio of work entitled Grace Before Dying on exhibition in Boston, in the Gallery of the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, opening on May 17th, and up through July 10th, 2011.

Waselchuk will lecture on this work on May 19th, at 6 pm, in Room 206 of the Photonics Building at 8 St. Mary's Street, in Boston, with a Reception in the Gallery following the lecture, at 7:30, at 832 Commonwealth Avenue.

In this body of work, Waselchuk documents the Hospice Program at Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary. This Hospice Program brings dignity to dying in a prison environment designed to isolate and punish. 

Run by one staff nurse and a team of prisoner volunteers, it has become nationally recognized for its transformative work among the thousands of prisoners who come to Angola to die.

There is an interview with Waselchuk HERE. You can learn more about Grace Before Dying HERE

Even though Waselchuk is now based  in Philadelphia, she continues to work in the South, building on her long career as a photographer in Louisiana, where she photographed the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita as well as life on New Orleans' North Clayborne Avenue.

Waselchuk does exceptionally strong work in the documentary tradition.  Definitely worth checking out.

Sally Mann at Harvard -- If Memory Serves

Steven Brown, from Lake Charles, LA and a graduate student in American Studies at Harvard, had the great good fortune to host Sally Mann last week during her stay in Cambridge for her lectures at Harvard University.  

The lectures were offered under the general title If Memory Serves.

Today, Steven reports on Mann's lectures on his blog. 

They were, he says, "poignant, personal, at times hilarious and at times terrifying."  

You can read his full account HERE.  Steven reports that Mann addressed directly the subject of this blog, the question of Southern photography. For this I am deeply grateful. 

Mann said, according to Steven, that there is something one can call a Southern way of seeing, a Southern photography, that "something instantly recognizable as Southern sets the Southern photograph apart, whether that photograph is of the Mississippi Delta or some Grecian ruin."
Steven reports that Mann identified this Southern quality in Southern artists' willingness to "risk the total failure, or total success, of their work on their own romantic and sentimental inclinations," walking a "tightrope" between "sentimentality and intellectual rigor." 

Southernness in photography is the result of operating in that tension.  The best Southern photographers, like Mann,  sustain that tension in their work, while the mediocre ones  fall off. 

This is good stuff. Steven promises that Mann's lectures will be published, and soon. I can't wait. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Eliot Dudik in One One Thousand

Savannah, GA-based photographer Eliot Dudik is the latest photographer featured in the ezine of Southern Photography One One Thousand, with a portfolio that in the words of the editors "celebrates the culture and landscape of rural South Carolina, specifically between Savannah and Charleston."

Dudik's featured portfolio ROAD ENDS IN WATER is also available in book form, available from his website.

Dudik says of his work that it is about the consequences for the Southern landscape and culture of the widening of US Highway 17, the highway that runs from Winchester, VA to Punta Gorda, FL, on the Gulf Coast of Florida. But what matters to Duduk is the part of US 17 that runs along the coast of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, earning it the name the "Coastal Highway."

As a result, Dudik says, in his remarkably clear and helpful Artist's Statement,  "change is descending upon an otherwise quiet, unhurried, unobtrusive, place," as the "main highway, U.S Route 17, that bisects South Carolina's "low country," north to south, is being widened to accommodate commerce, tourists, and urban refugees."

"Not only," he goes on, "are many homes, some historic, disappearing before the tracked blades of expansion, but also the new, faster thoroughfare encourages greater disregard and obliviousness to the charm and culture of the basin harbors."

The goal he has for his images, therefore, is to form "a tribute to, and an acknowledgment of, the respect that the modest souls of this region, obscure from the mainstream, deserve for their tenacity, good humor, social commitment, and acceptance of the ebb and flow of the often incomprehensible vagaries of existence."

Dubik's work exists at the juncture of several genres of photography, including for example color landscape work (he shows the swamps and byways of coastal South Carolina elegantly and with grandeur and in the most favorable light) as well as a touch of the anti-Ansel Adams school of landscape photography (sneaking in the "hand-of-man" on occasion -- for example, even though the image above is called "Alligator Alley," those aren't alligators floating among the trees).

There is also a good bit of documentary work here with the environmental portraits of hunters, fishermen, and folks who live by the water. There are also signs of change in the abandoned drive-in movie theaters and the smoke of fires rising up that suggest land is being cleared and tranquil places are being disturbed.

Dudik in this work avoids the documentarian's itch to confront us with harsh realities, and mostly, though not always, finds a place to see that stops short of the Southern tendency to romanticize the land and and its people and its past.There are elegant images here of people who live by the water that either find dignity in ordinary human existence or obscure the struggles of a lot of hardscrabble living.

Or maybe both. Let's say Dudik is off to a fine start as a Southern photographer and end with an image that I think invites contemplation and evokes a sense of restfulness, but stops short of romanticizing. Its simply there, where it belongs.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Jennifer Trausch Photographs in the South

New York-based photographer Jennifer Trausch has made a body of work in the South using a large-format Polaroid camera. This camera produces 20x24 inch images, and Trausch has made good use of it in Tennessee and other places.

You can see the portfolio HERE. (click on the outline of the map in the lower left of her website.) You can read about Trausch's working in the South HERE. Note the location photographs of Trausch working with this VERY large camera, made by Kimberlee Venable. More on Trausch's use of this camera HERE.

This work has been up at Raleigh's Flanders Gallery, where you can see more of Trausch's work HERE.  If it comes to a Gallery near you, check it out. This is strong work and the large-format Polaroid process enhances the strength of Trausch's vision.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sally Mann at Harvard -- Report from the Scene

Silke Hase at Creative Momentz Photography in Boston went to Sally Mann's lecture at Harvard on Tuesday night and made the image above, and filed a report on her blog HERE.

Mann's lecture series was entitled, "If Memory Serves." 

Silke found Mann's talk "Very poetic, and funny. Very personal. Very inspiring."

Thanks, Silkie, for this report!  I join you in hoping that Mann's lectures are published in the future.

Another report, HERE, this time from Blogger 365. And HERE, from Amy, who has a slew of pictures, including this one, taken at the reception.
Word is that Mann's lectures will be published, so we we can be there too. Thanks to all for making this event available to us who weren't there. Although I will be in Cambridge in a couple of weeks; bad planning on my part.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Brett Abbott Assumes Duties as Curator of Photography at the High Museum in Atlanta

Brett Abbott has assumed his new duties as Curator of Photography at the High Museum in Atlanta. He replaces Julian Cox, who enhanced significantly the High's role in the exhibition and collection of fine art photography.

The announcement of his appointment is here, from Artdaily. There is an interview -- just published -- with Abbott HERE, from Atlanta Magazine. And another HERE from ArtsCriticAtl.

Publication UpDates -- Susan Harbage Page, Daniel George, Ryan Steele

Susan Harbage Page's work on the traces of crossing the US-Mexican Border has been featured in an article called "Residues of Border Control"  in a recent issue of Emory University's Southern Spaces e-zine, co-written with Inés Valdezm also of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This piece contains a generous selection of Page's photographs as well as discussions of "Residual Objects at the Border and Immigrant Trajectories" and "Museums and the Upsetting of the Narrative of the 'Nation of Immigrants.'"

Page is doing powerful work here, and the Southern Spaces article enables us to explore it further.

Also in recent publications, two Southern photographers -- Savannah, Georgia's Daniel George  and Columbus, Georgia's Rylan Steele -- are among the featured photographers in Issue 26, the current issue -- of the online photography e-zine Fraction Magazine.

George has good work here from a series of color landscapes made in Southern suburbia (love those fake turkeys), while Steele is using his artistic selectivity to transform the mundane into the aesthetically interesting, like this gym turned polling place.

All definitely worth a look.

Scott Dalton Wins Smith Documentary Prize

Houston, Texas photographer Scott Dalton has been named the recipient of the Michael P.Smith Grant for Documentary Photography, awarded annually by the New Orleans Photo Alliance.

The Juror was Tom Rankin, Director of Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies.

Scott's winning project is entitled So Close, So Far: Daily Life and Cartel Violence in Ciudad Juáre. Scott addresses in this project conditions of life an a Mexican border city which is in the midst of a vicious cartel drug war and averages over 3,000 murders a year, making it one of the most dangerous cities on earth.

Tom Rankin says of Scott's work that it suggests "the sense of loss that relentless violence so firmly delivers.and . . . raises unnerving questions about the uncertain and precarious future . . . without sensationalism or stereotypes--his is a fresh, original, and probing engagement with individuals and the social landscape rendered with a transformative radiance."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sally Mann is Speaking at Harvard this Week

Sally Mann is delivering the Massey Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard this week. She will be speaking in the Sackler Auditorium at 485 Broadway, on the Harvard campus in Cambridge, MA

The schedule is as follows:

Monday, May 2nd, 4:00pm
Tuesday, May 3rd, 5:30pm
Wednesday, May 4th, 4:00pm

Her talks are free and open to the public. A reception will follow the lecture on Monday, May 2nd, in the Thompson Room, Barker Center, 12 Quincy Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Parking available during the lectures and reception at the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, in Cambridge.

Southern Photographers Sarah Sudhoff and Alex Leme in En Foco New Works #14 Show

En Foco, the NYC nonprofit dedicated to cultural diversity in photography, has announced the winners of its New Works #14 Photography Fellowship Awards Competition, about which there is more here. 

Southern photographers in this show include Houston's Sarah Sudhoff  and Arkansas's Alex Leme, whose image "Tyler, Trace, Austin and Adam (2009)" is above.

The juror was Andy Adams, Editor & Publisher, the online photography magazine Flak Photo.

The full list of photographers, with links to some of their work is here:

Rona Chang, • Alex Leme Susana RaabDaniel RamosSarah Sudhoff

Work by all these photographers is now up in an exhibition at the Skylight Gallery in the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Center for Arts & Culture at 1368 Fulton Street, in Brooklyn, through July 1, 2011.

You can see the  show on En Foco's blog, here:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Magenta Publishing Announces Southern Winners of Flash Forward Competition

Magenta Publishing has announced the winners of their seventh annual Flash Forward - Emerging Photographers Competition for 2011.

There are some familiar names on the list with Southern roots or connections, including Matt Eich and Jeff Rich, both of whom are having outstanding years in the development of their careers.

Some names less familiar, at least to me, are Texas-based photographer Sarah SudhoffMorgan Ashcom, who received his BFA at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA;  and Sara Macel, who was born in Texas (although she now lives elsewhere) and has been photographing in the South, including Memphis (see her photograph from Graceland above) and New Orleans.

Honorable Mentions with Southern connections in this competition include Brian Anselm, who studied at Western Kentucky University; Atlanta's David Walter Banks; Asheville,'s Erin Brethauer; Tennessee's Michael Clinard (though he now works in Seattle); and Florida's Danny Ghitis (though he now works in Brooklyn).

Definitely strong work here, very much worth checking out.