Friday, August 29, 2014

Lawrence Earley at the National Humanities Center

Raleigh, NC-based photographer Laurence Earley will open a show of images from his portfolio The Work Boats of Core Sound: Stories and Photographs of a Changing World on September 2nd, 2014 at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Earley's work documents the wooden fishing boats of Core Sound in eastern North Carolina, boats built to work in the shallow waters of the North Carolina coast. There will be a reception and Artist's Talk on Sunday, September 28th, from 2:00 - 4:00.

Earley's photographs will be up through December 19th, 2014.

Like many traditional industries, commercial fishing has been in decline in recent years, putting at risk the traditions, practices, and skills of a significant community of Southerners.

The skills possessed by folks in this community of fishermen and women include building their own boats, designed to enable fishing under the specific conditions of water, weather, and climate of coastal North Carolina. 

These boats are supremely utilitarian. They also happen to be aesthetically beautiful.  Earley's elegant black and white prints capture that beauty as well as the functionality, in the process becoming objects of beauty in their own right.

Earley has published this work with the University of North Carolina Press (The Workboats of Core Sound: Stories and Photographs of a Changing World, 2013), and has exhibited it in museums across the region.  It is now on permanent display at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center on Harkers Island, NC.

Earley's larger body of work includes extensive interviews with the builders of these boats as well as with the fishermen who use them, and with their families and others in the community.

At the National Humanities Center, Earley's photographs will be accompanied by recordings of these people's voices, telling their stories, describing the roles these objects play in the lives and work of people in small towns on the coast of North Carolina.

For example, the photograph above of the Primitive Baptist Church in Atlantic, NC (see image above) will be accompanied in the show by a recording of the voice of  Janice Smith, a resident of Atlantic, talking about the role of  this building in her life, and in her family.

This aspect of Earley's work addresses, successfully in my view, one of the major issues and challenges of photography when the people, places, and activities depicted in the work and the likely audience for the work are on different sides of one or more of the many historic social, cultural, racial, and economic divides that separate Southerners from one another. 

Southern fine art photography is not, I hope, merely about providing aesthetic diversions for those with the economic resources to devote our time to it, or to satisfy our curiosity about -- all the while maintaining a safe physical distance from -- those different from ourselves. 

We are all, surely, members of one human family, but work that does not acknowledge and address the divisions that separate us risks participating in -- even exacerbating -- those divisions. When we do this, we risk perpetuating the history we as Southerners deal with as part of who we are, in the hope that we can come to terms with it, perhaps ameliorate, even redeem it, in some small ways.

Earley's work brings to those of us who are not skilled boat designers and builders, skilled fishermen and women, people who make their lives in relationship with the sea and the sky and the weather, as well as with the vagaries of the catch and the market, some ability to sense what that is like, to value the achievement of people making their lives among these circumstances, to grasp something in this world that is new to us about what it means to be human. 

Good documentary photography brings us into awareness of how varied and rich human life is, of what it means, under particular circumstances and situations, to be people who are both like and unlike us. At its best, it enables us to glimpse how the world looks to people different from ourselves, perhaps even suggesting to us how we look to people different from ourselves.

When it is done in a way that continues to deepen our experience through repeated viewing, that rewards our engagement yet calls us back, over and over, to see more, to understand more, to be in relationship with it more fully, then it transcends mere representation and becomes art. 

That's what Earley is able to do in this work, making it worth our while to seek it out in the coming months at the National Humanities Center. 

For those of you not familiar with the Center, it is a place for advanced study in the humanities, where scholars in literature, history, and the arts gather each year to pursue their research.  It is housed in an architectural gem of a building, located just a short drive off of Alexander Drive, in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. 

You can find out more about the National Humanities Center here.

The Center's public spaces are open for the public to visit between 8:00 and 5:00, Monday through Fridays, as well as on the occasion of public lectures, conferences, and receptions. 

It is a bit difficult to find, but well worth seeking out, especially for Earley's show.

Rebekah Jacob Extends Hours for Contemporary Photography of the Great American South

Rebekah Jacob Gallery, at 502 King Street, in Charleston, is celebrating Labor Day with a special show called Contemporary Photography of the Great American South.

The Gallery will be open with extended hours for this show, from from 10:00 in the morning to 7:00 at night through tomorrow, August 30, then open Sunday the 31st from noon until 5:00 pm and on Monday, Labor Day itself, from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.

The show includes work by Richard Sexton, Kathleen Robbins, Julia Cart (see image above), among many others, and is not to be missed if you are in Charleston for the holiday.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Slow Exposures Cranking Up, Drawing Pop-Up Partners

Slow Exposures, by far the best photography show in Pike County, Georgia, and rapidly becoming a major festival of Southern culture, opens this year on September 19th, for a two-weekend run.

Slow Exposures attends to photography of the rural South and sponsors exhibitions, parties, panel discussions, dinners, a portfolio review, and so much, much more.

It is "a wonderful confluence of dissimilar currents," as Andy Scott, a member of the Advisory Board, puts it. You can find the full schedule here

The heart of Slow Exposures is the juried show, this year featuring work by nearly sixty photographers, mostly from the South, including the work of Smyrna, GA's Mark Caceres (see image above). You can find the list of participants here.  

Jeff Rich, in a recent installment in the Oxford American's Eyes on the South series features work by many of this year's other winning photographers, here. There is also a Young Photographers show, here.

Last year's recipient of the Conlan Prize for First Place in the juried show was San Francisco-based (but native of Laurinburg, NC) photographer McNair Evans (see image above), who this year will have a solo show of work from his Confessions for a Son portfolio. 

Slow Exposures is also serving as an inspiration -- and site -- for volunteer participants. 

Chapel Hill's irrepressible Lori Vrba, along with her friends Anne Berry, Ann George, Bryce Lankyard, and S. Gayle Stevens (aka the Pitchfork Posse) plan a pop-up show, opening in a barn at Split Oak Farm in Zebulon, GA, in honor of Georgia native Flannery O'Conner on the 50th anniversary of her death.

Called "Time, Place, and Eternity: Flannery O’Connor and the Craft of Photography," this show will explore O'Conner's ideas about grace, mystery, manners, gesture, and habit and their implications for photography.

This is the second year these folks have created an installation at Slow Exposures, following last year's installation Hay Now. 

Hay Now was called by native Southerner, New York curator, and long-time supporter of Slow Exposures John Bennette -- in one of those wonderfully complex descriptive phrases --  “the most brilliant installation ever to come down [Highway] 109.” 

You can get a feeling for last year's triumph Hay Now, and an idea about what to expect this year, in the video below, which is well worth a look. 

Much to look forward to, this year, as always, at Slow Exposures!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Southern Photographers in the Galleries, Late Summer 2014

There are a number of shows in the museums and galleries that are worthy of our attention, at the end of summer. Here are a few of them.

Charlotte, NC-based photographer Micah Cash (see image above) now has a show of photographs up at the National Archives in Atlanta. 

These photographs are part of a portfolio called Dangerous Waters and are up now at the Archives through November.30, 2014. 

Cash says these images explore the contemporary social consequences of the Tennessee Valley Authority. 

They are on exhibit as part of a broader consideration by the National Archives of the legacy and impact of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The GreenHill Center in Greensboro, NC is hosting a show of photographs by five North Carolina photographers that document their response to the experience of being in China. 

Up through Sepmtember 6th, 2014, this show features work by Jerome De Perlinghi, Joe Lipka, Bill McAllister, David M. Spear, and Barbara Tyroler, all of whom, according to the GreenHill's account, "have traveled to China and through their lenses have captured the sights, textures, nuances, shadow and light they found there."

Curated by Edie Carpenter,  the work in this show intends to "facilitate a dialogue around generally received notions and mythology surrounding China and contemporary visual representations of the globe’s most powerful emerging economy."

According to Carpenter, the work of Jerome De Perlinghi and Barbara Tryoler documents people in urban settings, while David Spear presents images from a voyage up the Yangtze River. 

Joe Lipka and Bill McAllister offer landscapes that "tell stories of a country where past and present overlap.”

Columbia, SC-based photographer Kathleen Robbins (see image above) is having a show of work from her Into the Flatland portfolio at the Halsley Institute of Contemporary Art, located at the College of Charleston.

This show opens August 23rd, with a reception from 6:30 - 8:00 pm and is up through October 4th, 2014. 

This show is in addition to her show also up at the Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston, through September 8th, 2014.

Much good work here, and more to come!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Welcome to Southern Glossary!

We've learned of a new on-line e-zine called Southern Glossary, a "web-based zine about art, culture, and performance across the South."

The work of  Ryan Sparks and Brad Rhines, based in New Orleans, Southern Glossary seeks to support "talented artists, valuable art institutions, and the communities both serve" through "clear writing" for "a South unburdened by archetypes or stereotypes, full of art and enterprise."

They have been at work on this project for over a year now, and the result is worthy of our attention and support. They offer lots of photography, lots of good writing, and your subscription is free.

The e-zine comes out monthly, and they also do a weekly newsletter called Loose Leaf. 

You can sign up for the whole package here.  Definitely worth checking out!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kathleen Robbins at Rebekah Jacob Gallery

Columbia, SC-based photographer Kathleen Robbins is having a show of work from her Into the Flatland portfolio at the Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston, up now through September 8th, 2014.

This is exemplary work in the canon of Southern fine art photography, both for the methodology and for the results.

A great deal of photography today is driven by the concept, the organizing idea or linking detail behind a set of images. Often this approach to assembling a body of work produces significant, even powerful photographs.

All too often, however, the result of this approach is a set of banal images that are enlivened or given significance only when one knows the concept that motivates them.

Robbins' images are visually compelling, yet motivated by a concept that is deeply felt and profoundly personal, growing out of her recognition of the Mississippi Delta's significance for her personally and the South generally.

In 2001, having developed her skills as a photographer and an artist, Robbins immersed herself in the physical world of her childhood in the Mississippi Delta, or as she puts it, she moved back in, literally living in the spaces and among the material objects of her own, and her family's, history.

Robbins lived on  her family's farm,  "ate from my great-grandmother's china, drank from her crystal and slept in her bed."

She goes on: "At dusk I rocked on the porch and watched the blackbirds descend on the canebrake planted by my great-grandfather. Living on the farm I existed in a strange continuum. My family's history and their connection to this place were markedly present in my everyday experience.

"This is land that my family has inhabited for generations, and I am pulled to this place in a way that I am not able to fully articulate. It is not my nostalgia alone that creates this longing; it is that of my mother and my mother's mother."

Robbins' photographs emerge from her deep engagement with the landscape and the material culture of her ancestors.

Her work demonstrates the value of attending to Faulkner's claim that in the South the past isn't dead; it's not even past. As in Robbins' work, traces of the South's tangled history sit side-by-side in the landscape with all the signs of a more recent prosperity and cosmopolitanism.

This is especially true in Charleston, where visitors from around the world flock to the Spoleto arts festival, where high end restaurants like Husk and SNOB sit blocks from the building that housed for years one of the largest slave markets in the antebellum South.

So it's good to have Robbins' work up at Rebekah Jacob's Gallery, a perfect location for work that engages actively with the complex and paradoxical legacy shared by all of us who are Southern. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Gallery Shows Link Past and Present in Photography

Three shows open or opening this month in Asheville, NC, New Orleans, and Columbia, SC document the relationship between past and present in photography.

Castell Gallery, in Asheville, NC, is opening tonight -- August 8th, 2014 -- an intriguing show drawing on the collections of three important collectors of photography, two of them from North Carolina. 

In addition to work from the collection of W. M. Hunt (who is Not From Around Here), the show draws on the collections of Allen Tomas of Wilson, NC, and David Raymond, of Asheville, NC. 

The show includes work by photography masters like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Harry Callahan, Imogen Cunningham, Sally Mann, Lee Friedlander, and André Kertész, but also includes work by eight emerging or mid-career contemporary photographers. 

All this work will be up at the Castell Gallery in Asheville through the end of September, 2014. 

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans has up a show of photographs, One Place, by Paul Kwilecki, through September 21st, 2014. 

Paul Kwilecki photographed in Decatur County, Georgia from the 1960's into the 2000's. attending, in a very Southern way to his own "postage stamp of earth," documenting both the changes that time brought with it and the things that endured. 

The Ogden says of this work that it is "an intimate and focused portrait of a single place that resonates with a universal vision of humanity." 

Kwilceki worked in a style that reminds me of the documentary style of WPA shooters in the 1930's and 1940's. In his work, the subject matter changes more than the vision. But the power of this work is a reminder of the effectiveness of that style, a powerful style for one who wishes to function as a witness.

The McMaster Gallery, in the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina, is opening on August 28th, 2014 a major show of work that explores contemporary uses of historical photographic methods.

The show is called Pathways, and demonstrates how contemporary use of early photographic processes helps photographers working today give a distinctive look and feel to their image making. 

Techniques in use in this work include tintype, palladium, gum bichromate, and collodion image making.

Artists whose work is featured in this show include Anne Berry, Diana Bloomfield (see image above), Carolyn DeMeritt,  Christine Eadie, Frank Hamrick, Aspen Hochhalter, Kevin Bruce Parent, Emma Powell, Laurie Schorr, and S. Gayle Stevens.  

Their work will be up at the McMaster Gallery through October 4th, 2014

Good to see these gallery shows with a sense of history, giving visual proof that in the South the past isn't dead, its not even past, even in the practice of photography.

Well worth checking out if you are in Asheville, or New Orleans, or Columbia.

Southern Photographers on the Internet, Late Summer 2014

On-line 'zines, blogs, and galleries are increasingly important places for photography exhibitions. Here are some examples of new and recent work now up on line.

Atlanta-based photographer Forrest McMullin (see image above) has a fine portfolio of portraits made at flea markets across the Southeast on lens culture.

Ariella Gibson (see image above), who studied photography at the Memphis College of Art, has a compelling body of work from her Born portfolio on Light Leaked, an on-line photography journal.

Rachel Boillot (see image above), who this year received her MFA from Duke University's Environmental and Documentary Arts graduate program, has images from her thesis portfolio Post Script, documenting the decline of rural post offices in the American South, also in Light Leaked.

Just catching up with Light Leaked, by the way, an ambitious new addition to the Southern photography scene, edited by Columbia, SC-based photographer Ashley Kaushinger (see image above) and Dallas-based photographer Sheryl Marie Anaya (see image below), both fine shooters in their own right. 

I deeply admire photographers who can be productive artists and also edit magazines or blogs, or run galleries, or arts programs. Somehow, all this work, no matter how important it is, seems to get in the way of one's own work. 

Congratulations to all who know how to find balance in their lives. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Catching Up with Jeff Rich's Review of Southern Fine Art Photographers


Jeff Rich has now featured a Southern photographer a week for nearly two years under the heading Eyes on the South at the Oxford American website. 

He has now organized the shooters he has featured into three "Best-Of" entries, here:

Best of Eyes on the South, Volume ONE, including images by Tammy Mercure (see image above).

Best of Eyes on the South, Volume TWO, including images by Tamara Reynolds (see image above).

Best of Eyes on the South, Volume THREE, including images by Stacy Krantz (see image above)

In addition, the following photographers have been featured in Eyes on the South since we last checked:

Justin Cook, Brian Anderson, Anne Conway Jennings, Rex Miller, Parker Stewart, and Charlotte Strode.

Thanks to Rich for developing this discipline of recognition, and to the Oxford American for supporting Rich in his work.