Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas at Graceland -- December 2018

In the words of Paul Simon, "I have reason to believe we all shall be received in Graceland."

Best wishes for a joyous holiday season to Southern photographers and Southern photography fans everywhere. 

Thank you for your interest in The Southern Photographer, and especially for your kind words of support for this blog during the past year. 

I especially appreciate your patience with me during my Sabbatical. We are back now, with what I hope is a sustainable practice. 

So I know I'm a bit behind right now in chronicling the world of fine art photography in the American South. 

Nevertheless, the Southern Photographer must now take a short break, while yr humble blogger attends to other professional and personal responsibilities.

We look forward to resuming our chronicle after the 1st of January 2019

In the meanwhile, remember that Christmas is a season, not just a day, and the season of Christmas is 12 days long.  

So its Christmas from the eve of December 25th of 2018 all the way through until Twelfth Night, January 5th, 2019. 

Graceland, of course, the home of Elvis, who became famous by appropriating the music of Arthur Crudup and Big Mama Thornton. They wrote the music, and he made the money.  

But what he spent it on was this tacky McMansion in Memphis. 

That's one of the things I believe about the South -- it can set you free and break your heart, all at the same time. 

Happy holidays, everyone!

Southern Photography at the Nasher

The Nasher Museum at Duke University has up an important show of Southern photography entitled Across County Lines: Contemporary Photography from the Piedmont.

While concentrating on photographers who live and work chiefly in Piedmont North Carolina, the show demonstrates the diversity of subjects, styles, and interests of several generations of Southern photographers. 

 Photographers in the show include Ben Alper, D.L. Anderson, Bill Bamberger (see image directly above), Endia Beal,  Diego Camposeco (see image below), Aaron Canipe, Kennedi Carter, Faith Couch, Phyllis Dooney, Tim Duffy, William Ferris, Maya Freelon, Tamika Galanis, Michael Galinksy, Alex Harris, Harrison Haynes, Titus Brooks Heagins (see image at the top of this blog post), Colby Katz, Anna Kipervaser and On Look Films, Jeremy M. Lange, Bryce Lankard, Jim Lee, Elizabeth Matheson, Lisa McCarty, Lindsay Metivier, Susan Harbage Page, Tom Rankin, John Rosenthal, Margaret Sartor, MJ Sharp, Christopher Sims, Heather Evans Smith, Leah Sobsey and Tim Telkamp, Hồng-Ân Trương and Hương Ngô, Burk Uzzle, Caroline Hickman Vaughan, and Gesche Würfel.

This show is up through February 10th, 2019. It's very worth your while to make the journey. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

PhotoNOLA for 2018

PhotoNOLA, the annual photography festival in New Orleans, this year runs from  December will bring us  this year running from December 12th-15th, 2018. 

For the full calendar of events for this year's festival, go here.

A special feature of this year's festival is the show now up at the Ogden Museum, entitled New Southern Photography, featuring the work made in the past 10 years by 25 photographers, many of whom are familiar to readers of this blog. 

The photographers chosen for this show include David Emitt Adams, Kael Alford (see image above), Elizabeth Bick, Christa Blackwood, John Chiara, Scott Dalton, Joshua Gibson, Maury Gortemiller, Alex Grabiec, Aaron Hardin, Courtney Johnson, Tommy Kha, Brittany Lauback, Carl Martin, Jonathan Traviesa & Cristina Molina, Andrew Moore, Celestia Morgan, Nancy Newberry, RaMell Ross, Whitten Sabbatini, Jared Soares, Louviere + Vanessa and Susan Worsham (see image below). 

According to the folks at the Ogden, "New Southern Photography explores the role photography plays in formulating the visual iconography of the modern New South."

They go on: "Regional identity in an interconnected and global world is central to the exhibition’s narrative. 

"Themes and ideas addressed in New Southern Photography include: memory, the experience of place in the American South, cultural mythology and reality, deep familial connections to the land, the tension between the past and present, and the transitory nature of change in the New South." 

If you can't make it to PhotoNOLA this year, the show at the Ogden is up through March 19th, 2019. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

SOUTHBOUND: Photographs of and about the New South, the show now up at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in Charleston, SC, has received appreciative coverage from the New York Times, go here.

The Times story features a number of images from this show, including Blizz and Brooke by Jares Soares (see image above). 

The story argues that "Accepting the South for what it is, instead of what we imagine it to be, is not easy. “I think that if you were to Google ‘Southern photography,’ you’re going to come up with the images of a rusted pickup truck in a field,” Richard McCabe said. “But the South is as much Houston as it is the Mississippi Delta. I think what we don’t realize is the place is just as connected as everywhere else.”
It goes on: “New Southern Photography” . . .  challenges the outdated assumption that the South is disconnected and isolated. Many people have tried to create a new visual language for the South, only to fail because they’d presumed there was a singular, representational way to do that. Mr. McCabe, who is the museum’s curator of photography, didn’t make the same mistake.
“‘New Southern Photography’ is not intended to define the South,” Mr. McCabe wrote in the exhibit’s catalog, “but rather to create an open discussion.”

And so it will.  

The Times article also brings to my attention a new book by historian Scott L. Matthews, Capturing the South: Imagining America’s Most Documented Region,” which examines documentary work of the South throughout the 20th century.

Matthews is quoted in the Times piece as arguing “that as early as the 19th century, portions of the South — particularly the rural South and what was almost considered the West at that time, but what we would now think of the Deep South — became this frontier culture that stood in stark contrast to the rapidly-modernizing cities of eastern America, that were not only becoming industrialized, but beginning to experience rapid immigration from Europe.”  The South remained true to itself while “emerging markets were standardizing the rest of America. 
 This book will be on my wish list for Christmas, for sure.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Southbound in Charleston

The Halsey Institute has on exhibit at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and City Gallery at Waterfront Park, both in Charleston, SC, a new and exceptional show of Southern photography called SOUTHBOUND: Photographs of and about the New South, through March 2nd, 2019.

This show is a major landmark in contemporary Southern photography, featuring the work of 56 of the best photographers working in the South today (including Durham's Titus Brooks Heagins, see image above), all of whom contribute to the project's overall goal of "offering a composite image of this storied region." 

The work on offer in this show includes photographs that reveal the South as "a bastion of tradition, as a region remade through Americanization and globalization, and as a land full of surprising realities."

I had the chance to meet Mark Sloan and Mark Long a while back, and their enthusiasm for this project was extraordinary. The show they have assembled justifies fully their enthusiasm. 

This show is not to be missed. The good news is that once it comes down in Charleston, it will move to other places. We'll keep you informed about its stops along the way. 

In the meantime, seek out the massive catalogue of the show, now available here. 

You can also check out the show's own website, here

On the website, don't miss the MAP OF SOUTHERNNESS, here. 

Also check out the feature story about this show from TIME, here

And, whatever you do, if you practice or care about photography in the American South, you have to see this show. 

You really do.

Return to the South

Your faithful blogger is returning to his work documenting the world of Southern photography. At least, on a limited basis. 

I recognized last winter that I had taken a 'way too expansive view of my subject when I started this blog back in 2009. 

So I wound up spending lots of time trying to keep up with every show, every publication, every photography related event that came to my attention.

I plan a more selective view this time, but hope my work is still useful. 

If anyone feels left out by my new policy, please let me know.

We will see how this goes.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Recent Events in Southern Photography

Yr humble servant is beginning to emerge from his sabbatical, at least to recognize major events. 

Here's one definitely worth a visit, when you are in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Photography Group is now hosting an exhibition of Southern photography called Know South / No South, up through July 14th, 2018 in its gallery space at the Tula Art Center.

Photographers whose work is included in the show are Aaron BlumRosie BrockAkea BrownJoshua Dudley Greer (see image above), Jennifer Garza-Cuen, Aaron Harding, and Anderson Scott.

Work in this show, juried by Richard McCabe, Curator of Photography at the Odgen Museum in New Orleans, were chosen to address the perennial question, "Is the South still a distinct cultural and geographical region apart from the rest of America?" 

APG says the work on offer "explores and challenges the idea of Southern identity in the 21st century."

Monday, March 5, 2018

UPDATED -- Sally Mann at the National Gallery of Art

Distinguished Southern photographer Sally Mann is having a major retrospective show of her work at National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, up now through May 28th, 2018. 

This is too important an event for Southern photography for me to let it slip by unnoticed.  

For a review of this show by Grace Hale, writing in Southern Cultures, go here.

This show signals Mann's acceptance as among the most distinguished of living American artists

The show contains some 110 of Mann's photographs, ranging over her entire career. Here is what the National Gallery says about the show:

"For more than forty years, Sally Mann (American, born 1951) has made experimental, elegiac, and hauntingly beautiful photographs that explore the overarching themes of existence: memory, desire, death, the bonds of family, and nature’s magisterial indifference to human endeavor. 

"What unites this broad body of work is that it is all bred of a place, the American South. A native of Lexington, Virginia, Mann has long written about what it means to live in the South and be identified as a southerner. 

"Using her deep love of her native land and her knowledge of its fraught history, she asks provocative questions—about history, identity, race, and religion—that reverberate across geographic and national boundaries.  

"Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings considers how Mann’s relationship with this land has shaped her work and how the legacy of the South—as both homeland and graveyard, refuge and battleground—continues to permeate American identity.

"Organized into five sections—Family, The Land, Last Measure, Abide with Me, and What Remains—and including many works not previously published or publicly shown, the exhibition is the first major survey of the artist’s work to travel internationally. 

"The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with essays that explore the development of Mann’s art; her family photographs; the landscape as repository of personal, cultural, and racial memory; and her debt to 19th-century photographers and techniques."

Mann's show will travel after it closes in DC to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., then to venues in Los Angeles, Houston, Paris and Atlanta. 

This is a not-to-be-missed show for all of us, and for anyone interested in Southern photography.  

Here is a review of this show, from the Washington Post.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Southern Photographer takes a Sabbatical

The Southern Photographer (aka John N. Wall, see image above) is taking a sabbatical. Professional work demands are crowding in while the subject of Southern photography continues to expand in scope and variety. 

As some of you know, I have a day job as a professor of English literature at NC State University.  

We've been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to recreate through digital modeling the look and sound of worship in St Paul's Cathedral in London in the 1620's. We are recreating a part of London that was totally destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Here is a preliminary example of the kind of thing we are trying to produce. 

You can see more if you go here: vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu

Our grant runs out at the end of this year, and there is till much to do. I'm not doing anyone any favors by trying to fit in work on this blog along with trying to meet deadlines with this multi-year project.

So, after 8 years, 833 blog entries, 163 loyal followers, and 530,676 pageviews, we take a pause. 

Titus Heagins and Ralph Burns at CAM Wilmington

Durham-based photographer Titus Brooks Heagins (see image above) and Asheville-based photographer Ralph Burns (see image below) have work in a group show called Created by Light -- Photographs from North Carolina Collections, now up through February 11th, 2018 at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC. 

Heagins and Burns will discuss their work at a gathering at CAM Wilmington on Sunday, January 14th, 2018, at 2:00 pm. The discussion will be monitored by Jennifer Dasal, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, in Raleigh.

This exhibition explores the photography collections of eight North Carolina institutions, including the Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill; the Asheville Art Museum, Asheville; the Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington; the Gregg Museum of Art & Design, Raleigh; the Greenville Museum of Art, Greenville; the Nasher Museum of Art, Durham; the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro; the Mint Museum, Charlotte; and the North Carolina Museum of Art.

The over 100 works included in the exhibition range from 1887 to 2016 with pioneers of the medium including Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Lewis Hine, Robert Maplethorpe, Edward Muybridge, Andres Serrano, Mickalene Thomas, Lorna Simpson and Alfred Stieglitz.

North Carolina photographers with work in this show, in addition to Burns and Heagins, include Diego Camposeco, Carolyn DeMerritt, Taj Forer, Cathryn Griffin, George Masa, Elizabeth Matheson, John Menapace, Susan Harbage Page and Caroline Vaughan.

Definitely worth a visit to Wilmington!