Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Southern Photographers in the News -- Mid-Fall 2017

Honorary Southern Photographer Dawoud Bey (see image above) has been named the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. 

For more on Bey's career and his genius award, go here for the Chicago Tribune story, and here, for the Washington Post story.  

Greensboro-based artist Rhiannon Giddens also received a MacArthur Fellowship, but she's a musician, not a photographer. 

Former Lexington, VA photographer and gallery owner -- and now Gallery Director at Panopticon Gallery,in Boston, MA -- Kat Kiernan (see her to the right in the image above) has been profiled on Elin Spring's blog, go here

Kiernan has opened her first show at the Panopticon Gallery, which includes work by Raleigh-based photographer Diana Bloomfield (see image above) go here.

Bloomfield will be part of a two-person show with Amy Friend -- at Panopticon, entitled  Alchemists, go here. 

This show opens November 3rd and is up in Boston until December 30, 2017.

Nashville-based photographer Tamara Reynolds (see image above) has had work from her The Drake portfolio featured on the fotoroom blog, go here

Distinguished Southern Photographer William Eggleston (see image above by NY Times photographer Andrea Morales) continues to be noticed for his his expansion of his artistic media to include composing and performing music, go here

More to come on the Southern Photographer! 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Southern Photographers on the Fence in Durham

An installation of THE FENCE is now up in Durham, NC, as part of the CLICK! Triangle Photography Festival. 

You can see it on the fence across from Durham's City Hall, in downtown Durham, through November of 2017.

Local photographers with work on the FENCE include the following:
Bryce Lankard | Drawn to Water,   
Chris Ogden | Stones Echo 
Gesche Würfel | SE Raleigh
Joe Lipka | The Labyrinth 
Leah Sobsey | Collections 
Marthanna Yater | Growing Together: A Study of Twin Sisters Over 32 Years 
Sarah Dale | It Brings All Things They Say 
Shawn Rocco | Flickerland (Series II) 
Warren Hicks | Urban Display

Much more to see in the Triangle through October, all part of CLICK!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Celebration of Southern Photography at Southern Miss

Folks at the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, are celebrating Southern photography in a big way this October.

The Celebration includes two shows. 

The first, opening in the university's Gammill Gallery on Tuesday, October 10th, 2017, is Portraits of Southerners: Photographs from The Do Good Fund, up through Nov. 3rd, 2017.

The second, entitled Mississippi Landscapes: Places in the Land, opens in the Cook Library Art Gallery on October 12th and will be up through December 15th, 2017. 

This show features images by Mississippi photographers  Ashleigh Coleman Thomas Pearson, Euphus Ruth, David Wharton, Brooke White, and Malcolm White. 

Their work in this show is featured in a new book also entitled Places in the Land, to be available at this show. 

There will also be a special issue of The Southern Quarterly, the university's journal of Southern arts and culture, to mark the occasion, go here.  to mark this occasion.

In conjunction with these shows, distinguished Southern folklorist Dr. William R. Ferris will give a talk entitled “The South in Color: A Visual Journey,” on October 12th at 6 pm in Gonzales Auditorium. 

Ferris is a photographer and film maker and an expert in Southern studies, African American music, and folklore, who serves as the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Ferris co-edited the massive Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, The South in Color: A Visual Journal, was published in 2016 by the University of North Carolina Press. 

Ferris’s films include “Mississippi Blues,” which was featured at the Cannes Film Festival. He has produced numerous sound recordings and hosted “Highway 61,” a weekly blues program on Mississippi Public Radio, for nearly a decade.

This sounds like a splendid series of events.  I can't make it, and I'm hoping someone who does will send me a full report.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Southern Photographers in the News -- Early Fall 2017

New Orleans-based photographer Deborah Luster (see image above) is one of 25 American artists to be awarded an Art of Change fellowship by the Ford Foundation.

The Art of Change fellowships "support visionary artists and cultural leaders in creating powerful works of art that help advance freedom, justice, and inclusion, and strengthen our democracy." 

Winston-Salem, NC-based photographer Aaron Canipe (see image above) has joined artists Diego Camposeco, Jing Niu, and Jina Valentine in a group show of work now up at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, NC, through the fall of 2017. 

The show is called “Melt with Ruth”: Visions of Home and Horizon in North Carolina, and, according to the folks at the Center, seeks to explore "notions of home, identity, geography, and sense of place in North Carolina." 

Pawley's Island, SC-based photographer Jeff Rich (see image above) has published his second book of photographs of Southern rivers, this one entitled Watershed: The Tennessee River, now out from Fall Line Press, go here.

Congratulations to all these fine shooters!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Click! begins in NC's Research Triangle

In my part of the South -- North Carolina's Research Triangle area -- the big photography event of the year is the CLICK! Triangle Photography Festival, which comes to us every October.

This is the sixth annual CLICK! Events take place across the Triangle, including Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. 

And it's going on right now. For a preview of what's happening, check out this piece from Lenscratch, featuring Chapel Hill-based photographer Lori Vrba, interviewed by Aline Smithson

  For a full list of events, dates, and locations, go to the CLICK! website, here.

Brandon Thibodeaux is Having a Great 2017, and it's only October

Dallas-based photographer Brandon Thibodeaux (see image above) is definitely having a moment in his career as a Southern photographer. 

So much good stuff has been happening in Thibodeaux's professional life lately that I will probably miss something, but these things I know: 

Thibodeaux's book In that Land of Perfect Day is now available from Red Hook Editions, go here

His image from that body of work -- Choo Choo and His Bible, Alligator, MS, 2012 (see image above) -- was chosen as winner of the Paul Conlan Prize at the recent Slow Exposures Photography Festival in Concord, GA.

As a result, Thibodeaux will have a solo show of his work at next year's SlowEx Festival, coming up before you know it on September 20-23, 2018.

Thibodeaux and his work have also been the subject of a feature story in the Washington Post, go here. 

As well recognition as by Jeff Rich in his Eyes on the South series for the Oxford American, go here

He has also been profiled on the Its Nice That blog, go here.

And there may be even more to celebrate for Thibodeaux; will try to keep you posted. After all, it's only October.

Congratulations to Thibodeaux on all his accomplishments and recognitions. Well-deserved!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

William Eggleston at the Piano

Honored Southern Photographer William Eggleston (see image above by NY Times photographer Peter Townsend) has, according to the NY Times, taken up the piano and has released an album of standards and original compositions.

Eggleston's album, entitled Musik, will be on the Secretly Canadian label, to be officially released October 20th, 2017.

According to the folks at Secretly Canadian, Eggleston recorded improvisations onto floppy disks and used a four-track sequencer to overlay parts and create fuller symphonic compositions. 

In addition to Eggleston's own music, the album includes standards by Gilbert and Sullivan and Lerner and Loewe. 

Again, according to the folks at Secretly Canadian, Eggleston "often says that he feels that music is his first calling, as much a part of him, at least, as his photography."

Good to know that Eggleston continues to explore his creative spirit. 

You can learn more about the album here. You can preorder the album here. 

This album is sure to wind up on many Southern photographers' holiday gift lists.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

New Books by Southern Photographers -- Early Fall 2017

A couple of new books of photographs out now from Southern photographers --

Atlanta-based photographer Jerry Siegel (see image above) has published Black Belt Color, from the Georgia Museum of Art, available here, from the usual source.

This book contains photographs from Siegel's 20 years of photographing in and around Selma, Alabama, his home town. 

The Spaulding Nix Gallery in Atlanta has a show of Siegel's work from this portfolio up now through November 4th, 2017.

You can learn more about Siegel's book here, from The Bitter Southerner.

Dallas-based photographer Brandon Thibodeaux (see image above) has published his first monograph, In That Land of Perfect Day, from Red Hook Editions

Thibodeaux' publisher describes the work as presenting "tales of strength against struggle, humility amidst pride, and promise for deliverance in the lives he has come to know" in eight years of roaming "through a forty-square mile area in the Mississippi Delta, learning about the region’s history and the contemporary experience of its residents."

They go on: "His photographs depict the rural African American experience in a universal quest for faith, perseverance, and solace through community."

Congratulations to Siegel and to Thibodeaux for their success with this fine work from deep in the South.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Southern Journals in the NY Times

The New York Times is featuring today a story about Southern publications that, each in its own way, seek to engage the issues presented by Southern culture, especially at the present time. 

The story is entitled In Southern Magazines, Easy Pleasures and Hard Questions, go here.

The piece is by Richard Fausset, who is the Times' corespondent in Atlanta. 

He focuses on this question: "How much to sing the song of the South, especially amid genuine evidence of racial progress, and how much to be a skeptical voice in a place where issues of race and class often shadow conversations about even the most innocent pleasures?"
These issues are -- or certainly ought to be -- of concern to Southern photographers, especially now, in this season of Trump and Charlottesville, as we try to make sense or at least meaning out of the unfolding events of our time. 

And also because the publications that Fausset cites use a whole lot of photographs.

Fausset focuses primarily on 3 publications -- Atlanta's The Bitter Southerner, Durham's Scalawag, and Charleston's Garden and Gun

Southern Living does get a mention. Other regional and often university-based publications like UNC-Chapel Hill's Southern Cultures and the University of Mississippi's (though now the University of Central Arkansas's) Oxford American rate only the briefest of mentions.  

The good news is that the editors of these publications -- the ones whom Fausset quotes -- are, on the whole, optimistic.

Fausset quotes Alysia Nicole Harris, 29, an African-American who grew up in Virginia and is an editor in chief of Scalawag to the effect that “The South is not this homogeneous place — it has a deep history, a really full history, and one that’s not just for the upper class. 

"The demographics are changing," Harris says. "And ultimately, we believe that the South is going to be the voice that emerges to lead this conversation about trauma and healing, because here is where the trauma was the thickest.”

But The Bitter Southerner, and its editor Chuck Reece, receive the lion's share of Fausset's attention. And richly deserved attention it is, as I suspect anyone who spends time on The Bitter Southerner's website will agree. 

Fausset tells the story of The Bitter Southerner, describing Reece as "a white voice, simultaneously proud and conscience-stricken, screaming to be heard over the stock-car roar but always cognizant that there are other voices, in other flavors, that may deserve a hearing even more."

In their interview, Reece remembers his founding vision for the publication:

"If you are a person who buys the states’ rights argument … or you fly the rebel flag in your front yard … or you still think women look really nice in hoop skirts, we politely suggest you find other amusements on the web. The Bitter Southerner is not for you.

The Bitter Southerner is for the rest of us. It is about the South that the rest of us know: the one we live in today and the one we hope to create in the future.”

Fair enough -- although as I read these remarks, I am reminded of bygone days, and bygone hopes that have not panned out as we expected. 

I am a child of the Jim Crow South, the South of the 1950's and '60's, the segregated South, when young Southerners lived in two different worlds. 

Whatever we shared, we shared it across the barriers that divided our worlds. 

One vehicle for sharing was WLAC, the radio station out of Nashville that, at night, you could hear across the South, even in my room in North Carolina, bringing us the music of Big Mama Thornton, Hank Ballard, Ruth Brown, and Billy Ward and the Dominos, so that for me and my friends rhythm and blues became the music of our youth.

So we were ready for Motown, and the music out of Muscle Shoals, and out of Memphis (and by Memphis, I don't mean Elvis, that Mississippi cracker who got rich making crossover recordings of music by black artists like Big Mama Thornton). 

Writing today, I am aware that, as Reece says of okra and gumbo, and by extension so much of Southern culture, "you can't [as a white person] write a story about how wonderful a thing [these gifts are] without acknowledging that [they are] undeserved gifts." 

This was a gift some of us tried to pay back by supporting, as best we could, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. 

And, if you had told me in 1966, as my fraternity at UNC welcomed people of color into our merry band, or if you had told me, in 1972, when the public schools in my home county dismantled the segregated school system that I attended -- and did it peacefully, when the city of Boston was tearing itself apart trying to do the same thing -- that in 2017 we would have white supremacists helping to elect the president of the United States, and have a mob of Confederate flag-waving demonstrators desecrating the grounds of the University of Virginia, I would have told you that you were crazy, that a new day was dawning, that black folks and white folks were standing up together to redeem Southern history and make a new day.

In some ways, that happened. But in other ways, it didn't. In painful ways, it didn't. As the events in Charlottesville demonstrate so clearly. 

But heartbreak and disappointment are as much a part of the Southern experience as anything else. And so we persevere, even though Southern fear, and suspicion, and bigotry also persist. 

And we keep hoping tor a better day, although far too many of our white relatives persist in following the darkest impulses of our racist past.

Friday, September 1, 2017

More News of Southern Photographers -- Late Summer 2017

Kat Kiernan, formerly owner of a photography gallery in Lexington, VA, and still editor of the magazine Don’t Take Pictures, has now become Director of Panopticon Gallery, on Commonwealth Avenue, in Boston, MA.

Her first show as Director of the Gallery is a group show entitled At Sea, go here.

Among the work included in this show is a set of tricolor gum prints by Raleigh-based photographer Diana Bloomfield (see image above). 

Chapel Hill-based photographer Susan Harbage Page (see image above) is opening a show of her photographs taken in the Italian town of Spello, go here. 

The show is part of Spello FotoFest 2017.  

It occurs to me that Page and Betty Press, who also summers in Italy, should get together. Seems to me, they have a lot to talk about, as Southern photographers as well as photographers of Italy.  

Earlier this year, TIME magazine assembled a distinguished panel of folks who then chose 12 African American Photographers You Should Follow Right Now, go here.

Among the 12 are the following Southern photographers:
Winston-Salem-based photographer Endia Beal (see image above).

Also Atlanta-based photographer Joshua Rashaad McFadden (see image above).

Also, Atlanta-born but NYC-based photographer Shamayim (see image above).

Also, Baltimore-based photographer Michael McCoy (see image above). 

Also, New Orleans-based photographer Chandra McCormick (see image above). 

McCormick works in New Orleans with her husband Keith Calhoun (see image above), another fine Southern photographer. 

Congratulations to all these fine photographers! 

More later, from the Southern Photographer.   

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

More Southern Photographers on the FENCE

Several other Southern photographers have had their work selected for use in the FENCE project, in various places across the country.

Among them are the following, including Charlottesville-based photographer Matt Eich (see image above).

Also, Chapel Hill-based photographer Leah Sobsey (see image above). 

I am honored to say that most of what I know about photography I learned from Sobsey, at the Center for Documentary Studies, in Durham.

Also, Durham-based photographer Shawn Rocco (see image above).

Also, Durham-based photographer Bryce Lankard (see image above).

Also, Chapel Hill-based photographer Gesche Wurfel (see image above). 

Also, Durham-based photographer Marthanna Yater (see image above).

Also, Chapel Hill-based photographer Warren Hicks (see image above). 

Also, Atlanta-based photographer Joshua Rashaad McFadden (see image above). 

Also, Durham-based photographer Chris Ogden (see image above). 

Congratulations to all these folks! Watch for their work on a fence near you. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

News of Southern Photographers, UPDATED -- Late Summer, 2017

We will update this blog entry as more news comes in. But for no, we have the following items:

Durham-based photographer Chris Sims (see image above) has been working for some time on his portfolio Theater of War, documenting the pretend villages of Iraq and Afghanistan that one finds on some military bases in the American South.

Sims' work is now  featured on the Atlas Obscura website, go here

Charleston's Rebekah Jacob Gallery has recently been the subject of a feature story in Charleston's City Paper, go here.

There is an update on this story, from the City Paper, go here.

Savannah-based photographer Emily Earl (see image above) has been chosen by the Atlanta Photography Group to receive the annual $2500 APG/High Museum of Art Purchase Award. 

As a result, seven pieces from Earl’s portfolio Late Night Polaroids will be added to the permanent collection of photography at the High Museum. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

More on Charlottesville -- Matt Eich, The Bitter Southerner, the NY Times

Charlottesville-based photographer Matt Eich (See image above, also images below) photographed the late unpleasantness in Charlottesville for the New York Times. 

Thanks to Joel Brouwer for pointing Eich's work out to me!

You can find more of Eich's work in the NY Times, go here.

Speaking of Charlottesville, The Bitter Southerner has continued its coverage of Charlottesville, go here. 

Especially, check out Alex Johnson's article Separating Hate from Heritage in the Lies They  Told Us, go here. 

Johnson considers the situation many of us who are white Southerners find ourselves in after Charlottesville, descendants of slaveowners or of men who fought in the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy.

He thinks about all the stories we heard growing up, that the Civil War (or, perhaps the War of Northern Aggression) was not about slavery but states' rights, that Reconstruction was really bad, that Jim Crow laws and Southern apartheid were best for everyone.

He concludes:

"We’re all victims of those narratives, but the hypothesis was false. 

"As Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens said three weeks before firing on Fort Sumter, “African slavery” was the “cornerstone” of the new country. 

"Slavery was real, and the power of that evil institution lingers in the lies we’ve been told for too long. 

" First, it was the slave owners. Now, it’s the skinheads. Don’t fall prey to their perversions of reality."

The Bitter Southerner's coverage of Charlottesville has itself received some appropriate laudatory attention, by Daniel Funke, go here. 

My friend Catherine Bishir brings us this essay on the history behind the monuments, go here.

All worth viewing and reading, and pondering deeply in our hearts, in the days and weeks and years ahead.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlottesville -- August 2017

The Bitter Southerner has published a portfolio of photographs made by Virginia-based photographer Pat Jarrett (see all images in this blog entry) in Charlottesville over the weekend. 

Jarrett also describes his experience covering this event in The Bitter Southerner, go here, in an article called As Loud as a Bomb. 

Chuck Reese, an editor of The Bitter Southerner, says of Jarrett:

"To show us the South at its worst, Jarrett will take his camera and, quite literally, look hate straight in the eye. 

"He has made it his business to understand the individual idiosyncrasies of dozens of hate groups. 

"But on Saturday in Charlottesville, he saw them act in a way he’d never witnessed before: He saw them attack a group of protesters, killing a young paralegal, Heather Heyer, and injuring many others."

Reese gets things about right when he writes, "We cannot ignore the fact that these people — wherever they are from — chose our region, and its symbols of the Confederacy, as the place to take their stand. 

"Therefore, it’s up to us to root them out. As for me, I find myself inextricably drawn to a simple idea: that the time for the benevolent but silent white Southerner is over."

Reese quotes John Pavlovitz, a minister at the North Raleigh Community Church, writing after the events in Charlottesville. 

Pavlovitz says, "White people especially need to name racism in this hour, because somewhere in that crowd of sweaty, dead-eyed, raw throated white men are our brothers and cousins and husbands and fathers and children — those we go to church with and see at Little League and in our neighborhoods. 

"They need to be made accountable by those they deem their “own kind.” They need to know that this is not who we are, that we don’t bless or support or respect this. They need white faces speaking directly into their white faces, loudly on behalf of love."

I'm with Pavlovitz, and with Reese, when he writes, "We know these people. We see them. They are in our communities. 

"For far too long, we have shrugged and tried to ignore words from acquaintances that might suggest sympathy for the neo-Nazis, the Lost Cause apologists, the alt-right, or the so-called “American nationalists.”

"Our silence is no longer acceptable. 

"White people in the South who know better must call out our neighbors and family members who apologize for or justify the actions of murderers, the actions of the deluded, the actions of the cowards, the actions of the dangerous.

"When we hear the code words, the dog whistles, or even completely overt expressions of racism, people like us no longer have a choice.
"We must respond. White faces have to look straight into the eyes of other white faces and say: I will not abide your hatred." 

Reese says that the folks at The Bitter Southerner will be following the aftershocks of the events in Charlottesville, so its well worth our time to keep checking back to their website. 

They say that they "can’t make up [their] minds whether . . . to talk about the cowardice of the racists who brought their hate to Charlottesville or the danger they pose to the future of our region and nation. 

"They are cowards, but they are dangerous, and both facts are worthy of discussion."

And I certainly agree with the "entire BS crew" that "the job of standing up for what’s good about the American South just got harder."

Amen to that.