A visually rich survey of two hundred years of Alabama fine arts and artists
Alabama artists have been an integral part of the story of the state, reflecting a wide-ranging and multihued sense of place through images of the land and its people. Quilts, pottery, visionary paintings, sculpture, photography, folk art, and abstract art have all contributed to diverse visions of Alabama’s culture and environment. The works of art included in this volume have all emerged from a distinctive milieu that has nourished the creation of powerful visual expressions, statements that are both universal and indigenous.
Published to coincide with the state’s bicentennial, Alabama Creates: 200 Years of Art and Artists features ninety-four of Alabama’s most accomplished, noteworthy, and influential practitioners of the fine arts from 1819 to the present. The book highlights a broad spectrum of artists who worked in the state, from its early days to its current and contemporary scene, exhibiting the full scope and breadth of Alabama art.
This retrospective volume features biographical sketches and representative examples of each artist’s most masterful works. Alabamians like Gay Burke, William Christenberry, Roger Brown, Thornton Dial, Frank Fleming, the Gee’s Bend Quilters, Lonnie Holley, Dale Kennington, Charlie Lucas, Kerry James Marshall, David Parrish, and Bill Traylor are compared and considered with other nationally significant artists.
Alabama Creates is divided into four historical periods, each spanning roughly fifty years and introduced by editor Elliot A. Knight. Knight contextualizes each era with information about the development of Alabama art museums and institutions and the evolution of college and university art departments. The book also contains an overview of the state’s artistic heritage by Gail C. Andrews, director emerita of the Birmingham Museum of Art. Alabama Creates conveys in a sweeping and captivating way the depth of talent, the range of creativity, and the lasting contributions these artists have made to Alabama’s extraordinarily rich visual and artistic heritage.
Photographer and writer Joel Katz presents a pictorial chronicle of his travels through the shifting islands of fear and loss, freedom and deliverance that was segregated Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964
In June 1964, college student Joel Katz boarded a Greyhound bus in Hartford, Connecticut, for Jackson, Mississippi. He carried few possessions—a small bag of clothes, a written invitation to call on Frank Barber, who was special assistant to Governor Paul Johnson, and a Honeywell Pentax H1-A camera with three lenses.
A few days after his arrival in Jackson, the city’s Daily News ran on its front page an FBI alert seeking Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner, three field workers from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) who’d gone missing while investigating a church burning in Neshoba County. In the uneasy silence of their disappearance, Katz began a seven-week journey across the state. Along the way, he met the people of Mississippi, black and white, of all ages and classes, from the humble to the grand. These Mississippians encouraged or obstructed change in their traditional culture or simply observed the edifice of that culture tremble and fall.
During 1964’s Freedom Summer, Katz met ministers making history and journalists writing it. He photographed Martin Luther King Jr. and James Abernathy, taught at a freedom school, interviewed a leader of the White Citizens Councils, was harassed by Jackson police, and escaped death in Vicksburg. Six weeks after Katz arrived in Mississippi, the FBI found the bodies of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner in an earthen dam.
Inspired by the social documentary photographs of Walker Evans and Robert Frank, Katz snapped hauntingly quotidian photos on his Pentax camera. Amid acts of brutal savagery and transcendent courage that transfixed the nation, Katz discovered resilient individuals living quiet lives worthy of witness. And I Said No Lord is a moving and luminous record of Americans in evolution.
In 1988 photographer Paul D’Amato was driving around Chicago with his camera when he decided to follow Halsted Street into Pilsen, the city’s largest Mexican neighborhood. Intrigued by the barrio and neighboring Little Village, he began to take photographs and would continue to do so off and on for the next fourteen years. D’Amato started with the public life of the neighborhood: women and children in the streets, open fire hydrants, and graffiti. But later—after he got to know the area’s Mexican residents better—he was allowed to take more intimate photos of people at work, families at weddings and parties, and even gang members.
Barrio collects ninety of these striking color images along with D’Amato’s fascinating account of his time photographing Mexican Chicago and his acceptance—often grudging, after threatened violence—into the heart of the city’s Mexican community. Some of the photos here are beautifully composed and startling—visual narratives that are surreal and dreamlike, haunting and mythic. Others, like those D’Amato took while shadowing graffiti artists in the subway, are far more immediate and improvisational. With a foreword by author Stuart Dybek that places D’Amato’s work in the context of the Pilsen and Little Village that Dybek has elsewhere captured so memorably, this book offers a penetrating, evocative, and overall streetwise portrait of two iconic and enduring Hispanic neighborhoods.
Jennette Williams Duke University Press, 2009 Library of Congress TR681.W6W55 2009 | Dewey Decimal 779.24092
Jennette Williams’s stunning platinum prints of women bathers in Budapest and Istanbul take us inside spaces intimate and public, austere and sensuous, filled with water, steam, tile, stone, ethereal sunlight, and earthly flesh. Over a period of eight years, Williams, who is based in New York City, traveled to Hungary and Turkey to photograph, without sentimentality or objectification, women daring enough to stand naked before her camera. Young and old, the women of The Bathers inhabit and display their bodies with comfort and ease—floating, showering, conversing, lost in reverie.
To create the images in The Bathers, Williams drew on gestures and poses found in iconic paintings of nude women, including tableaux of bathers by Paul Cézanne and Auguste Renoir, renderings of Venus by Giorgione and Titian, Dominique Ingres’s Odalisque and Slave, and Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. By alluding to these images and others, Williams sought to reflect the religious and mythological associations of water with birth and rebirth, comfort and healing, purification and blessing. She also used copies of the paintings to communicate with her Hungarian- and Turkish-speaking subjects—homemakers, factory workers, saleswomen, secretaries, managers, teachers, and students. Working in steam-filled environments, Williams created quiet, dignified images that evoke not only canonical representations of female nudes but also early pictorial photography. At the same time, they raise contemporary questions about the gaze, the definition of documentary photography, and the representation and perception of beauty and femininity, particularly as they relate to the aging body. Above all else, her photos are sensuously evocative. They invite the viewer to feel the steam, hear the murmur of conversation, and reflect on the allure of the female form.
A CDS Book Published by Duke University Press and the Center for Documentary Photography
Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden (1822–1865) produced over eight hundred photographs during her all-too-brief life. Most of these were portraits of her adolescent daughters. By whisking away the furniture and bric-a-brac common in scenes of upper-class homes of the Victorian period, Lady Hawarden transformed the sitting room of her London residence into a photographic studio—a private space for taking surprising photos of her daughters in fancy dress. In Carol Mavor’s hands, these pictures become windows into Victorian culture, eroticism, mother-daughter relationships, and intimacy. With drama, wit, and verve, Lady Hawarden’s girls, becoming women, entwine each other, their mirrored reflections and select feminine objects (an Indian traveling cabinet, a Gothic-style desk, a shell-covered box) as homoerotic partners. The resulting mise-en-scène is secretive, private, delicious, and arguably queer—a girltopia ripe with maternality and adolescent flirtation, as touching as it is erotic. Luxuriating in the photographs’ interpretive possibilities, Mavor makes illuminating connections between Hawarden and other artists and writers, including Vermeer, Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Lewis Carroll, and twentieth-century photographers Sally Mann and Francesca Woodman. Weaving psychoanalytic theory and other photographic analyses into her work, Mavor contemplates the experience of the photograph and considers the relationship of Hawarden’s works to the concept of the female fetish, to voyeurism, mirrors and lenses, and twins and doubling. Under the spell of Roland Barthes, Mavor’s voice unveils the peculiarities of the erotic in Lady Hawarden’s images through a writerly approach that remembers and rewrites adolescence as sustained desire. In turn autobiographical, theoretical, historical, and analytical, Mavor’s study caresses these mysteriously ripped and scissored images into fables of sapphic love and the real magic of photography.
When Barry Phipps relocated to Iowa City from Chicago in 2012, he knew nothing of Iowa. He began taking day trips across Iowa in the spirit of wonder and discovery. His marked-up road map soon became a work of art in and of itself, covered with spokes, lines, and places both seen and needing to be seen. Along the way he plied his trade, taking photographs.
Inspired by such seminal work as Robert Frank’s The Americans, this is a unique vision of the Midwest and Iowa. Without condescending or overemphasizing the decline of small town America, Phipps documents rural communities as they are now, noting abstract shapes and colors as he photographs business districts with quirky and/or artful signs, streetscapes and landscapes, buildings with ghosts of paint from previous lives, and the occasional resident.
In addition to their startling attention to color and geometry, Phipps’s photos delight because they suggest an author who isn’t on intimate terms with his subject matter, but very much wants to be. Though the photographs in this collection frequently maintain a cautious distance from the houses, water towers, and iconography he captures on film, the pictures feel, at once, eager and shy.
Phipps admires his new home—from afar, by varying degrees—and excitedly introduces himself to it: the first steps of a journey toward claiming Iowa as his.
In Blaze Orange, photographer Travis Dewitz captures the joy, excitement, and camaraderie of deer hunting in Wisconsin. A lone hunter in a tree stand as dawn arrives. A girl and her grandfather scanning a field in the fresh snow. Tired hunters laughing around the evening fire back at camp. These are snapshots of a culture touchstone. With more than 600,000 hunters taking to the fields and woods of the state each year, the whitetail deer season is by far Wisconsin’s largest sporting event. Dewitz documents the hunt and more as he rides along with hunters and a game warden, visits local mom-and-pop stores where hunters gather, and records the industries that operate alongside the deer season—a taxidermist and knife maker, butchers and sausage makers. The result is a stunning and keen-eyed chronicle of one season of the Wisconsin deer hunt.
In Bloodflowers W. Ian Bourland examines the photography of Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955–1989), whose art is a touchstone for cultural debates surrounding questions of gender and queerness, race and diaspora, aesthetics and politics, and the enduring legacy of slavery and colonialism. Born in Nigeria, Fani-Kayode moved between artistic and cultural worlds in Washington, DC, New York, and London, where he produced the bulk of his provocative and often surrealist and homoerotic photographs of black men. Bourland situates Fani-Kayode's work in a time of global transition and traces how it exemplified and responded to profound social, cultural, and political change. In addition to his formal analyses of Fani-Kayode's portraiture, Bourland outlines the important influence that surrealism, neo-Romanticism, Yoruban religion, the AIDS crisis, experimental film, loft culture, and house and punk music had on Fani-Kayode's work. In so doing, Bourland offers new perspectives on a pivotal artist whose brief career continues to resonate with deep aesthetic and social meaning.
Caroline Vaughan’s photographs offer inspired and surprising visions of landscapes, still lifes, and the human form. In Borrowed Time, her images of nature and people, sometimes surreal and often arresting, follow each other to create a visual poem of opposition and likeness, physical beauty and balance. Compelling the viewer’s attention with delicate rich tones and meticulous technique, she holds the viewer’s gaze even when her subject is difficult. Most highly acclaimed for her psychologically complex but subtle portraits of family, friends, loved ones, and strangers, Vaughan’s work, though widely published and displayed, is collected here for the first time.
Nicknamed the "Eye of Paris" by Henry Miller, Brassaï was one of the great European photographers of the twentieth century. This volume of letters and photographs, many published for the first time, chronicles the fascinating early years of Brassaï's life and artistic development in Paris and Berlin during the 1920s and 1930s.
"[Brassaï] is probably the only photographer—at least in France—to have acquired such a vast audience and mastered his material to such a degree that he can express himself with a flexibility and apparent ease that is almost literary in its nature."—Jean Gallien, Photo-Monde
"The letters that Brassaï wrote to his parents between 1920 and 1940 chronicle the sometimes painful stages by which this gifted man hauled himself from penury to celebrity."—Peter Hamilton, Times Literary Supplement
"In these proud, protective, occasionally conscience-stricken missives, the young man full of eager dreams emerges as one of the century's pioneering photographers, revered for his lushly atmospheric portraits of Paris after dark."—Elle
"A fascinating insight into how a bright individual slowly found his calling."—Christine Schwartz Hartley, New York Times Book Review
In the early 1940s as the conflict between the Axis and the Allies spread worldwide, the U.S. State Department turned its attention to Axis influence in Latin America. As head of the Office of Inter-American Affairs, Nelson Rockefeller was charged with cultivating the region’s support for the Allies while portraying Brazil and its neighbors as dependable wartime partners. Genevieve Naylor, a photojournalist previously employed by the Associated Press and the WPA, was sent to Brazil in 1940 by Rockefeller’s agency to provide photographs that would support its need for propaganda. Often balking at her mundane assignments, an independent-minded Naylor produced something far different and far more rich—a stunning collection of over a thousand photographs that document a rarely seen period in Brazilian history. Accompanied by analysis from Robert M. Levine, this selection of Naylor’s photographs offers a unique view of everyday life during one of modern Brazil’s least-examined decades. Working under the constraints of the Vargas dictatorship, the instructions of her employers, and a chronic shortage of film and photographic equipment, Naylor took advantage of the freedom granted her as an employee of the U.S. government. Traveling beyond the fashionable neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro, she conveys in her work the excitement of an outside observer for whom all is fresh and new—along with a sensibility schooled in depression-era documentary photography of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, as well as the work of Cartier-Bresson and filmmaker Serge Eisenstein. Her subjects include the very rich and the very poor, black Carnival dancers, fishermen, rural peasants from the interior, workers crammed into trolleys—ordinary Brazilians in their own setting—rather than simply Brazilian symbols of progress as required by the dictatorship or a population viewed as exotic Latins for the consumption of North American travelers. With Levine’s text providing details of Naylor’s life, perspectives on her photographs as social documents, and background on Brazil’s wartime relationship with the United States, this volume, illustrated with more than one hundred of Naylor’s Brazilian photographs will interest scholars of Brazilian culture and history, photojournalists and students of photography, and all readers seeking a broader perspective on Latin American culture during World War II.
Genevieve Naylor began her career as a photojournalist with Time, Fortune, and the Associated Press before being sent to Brazil. In 1943, upon her return, she became only the second woman to be the subject of a one-woman show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She served as Eleanor Roosevelt’s personal photographer and, in the 1950s and 1960s became well known for her work in Harper’s Bazaar, primarily as a fashion photographer and portraitist. She died in 1989.
Daring to Look presents never-before-published photos and captions from Dorothea Lange’s fieldwork in California, the Pacific Northwest, and North Carolina during 1939. Lange’s images of squatter camps, benighted farmers, and stark landscapes are stunning, and her captions—which range from simple explanations of settings to historical notes and biographical sketches—add unexpected depth, bringing her subjects and their struggles unforgettably to life, often in their own words.
When Lange was dismissed from the Farm Security Administration at the end of 1939, these photos and field notes were consigned to archives, where they languished, rarely seen. With Daring to Look, Anne Whiston Spirn not only returns them to the public eye, but sets them in the context of Lange’s pioneering life, work, and struggle for critical recognition—firmly placing Lange in her rightful position at the forefront of American photography.
“[A] thoughtful and meticulously researched account of Lange’s career. . . . Spirn, a photographer herself, traces Lange’s path, visiting her locations and subjects in a fascinating series of ‘then and now’ shots.”—Publishers Weekly
“Dorothea Lange has long been regarded as one of the most brilliant photographic witnesses we have ever had to the peoples and landscapes of America, but until now no one has fully appreciated the richness with which she wove images together with words to convey her insights about this nation. We are lucky indeed that Anne Whiston Spirn, herself a gifted photographer and writer, has now recovered Lange’s field notes and woven them into a rich tapestry of texts and images to help us reflect anew on Lange’s extraordinary body of work.”—William Cronon, author of Nature’s Metropolis
Photographers Linda and Robert Scarth have an incredible eye for that magic moment when small becomes beautiful. Matched with patience and skill, their eye for magic produces dazzling images of Iowa nature up close. Revealing the miniature beauties hidden among the patches of prairie, woodland, and wetland that remain in Iowa’s sadly overdeveloped landscape, the seventy-five color photographs in Deep Nature give us a breathtaking cross section of the state’s smallest inhabitants.
The Scarths’ close-up images of showy orchis and northern monkshood, great spangled fritillary and painted lady, red-breasted nuthatch and eastern wood-pewee, ornate box turtle and gray treefrog, big bluestem and cotton-grass, and many other natural wonders look more like paintings than photographs. Beginning with an iridescent fly hovering over a neon-purple fringed gentian and ending with their iconic image of coneflowers refracted in dewdrops, they have created a sparkling jewelbox of images that will make us look at the small world around us with renewed appreciation.
Attending to the small things in the fabric of nature is the Scarths’ source of artistic inspiration. Taking Walt Whitman’s “every leaf is a miracle” as their beginning, they celebrate not only each leaf but each feather, insect, dewdrop, flower, lichen, and intricate organism in the evolving web of life.
James Welling University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress TR654.W4187 2015 | Dewey Decimal 779.36
For more than thirty-five years, James Welling has explored the material and conceptual possibilities of photography. Diary/Landscape—the first mature body of work by this important contemporary artist—set the framework for his subsequent investigations of abstraction and his fascination with nineteenth- and twentieth-century New England.
In July 1977, Welling began photographing a two-volume travel diary kept by his great-grandmother Elizabeth C. Dixon, as well as landscapes in southern Connecticut. In one closely cropped image, lines of tight cursive share the page with a single ivy leaf preserved in the diary. In another snowy image, a stand of leafless trees occludes the gleaming Long Island sound. In subject and form, Welling emulated the great American modernists Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, and Walker Evans—a bold move for an artist associated with radical postmodernism. At the same time, Welling’s close-ups of handwriting push to the fore the postmodernist themes of copying and reproduction.
A beautiful and moving meditation on family, history, memory, and place, Diary/Landscape reintroduced history and private emotion as subjects in high art, while also helping to usher in the centrality of photography and theoretical questions about originality that mark the epochal Pictures Generation. The book is published to accompany the first-ever complete exhibition of this series of pivotal photographs, now owned by the Art Institute of Chicago.
A Different Light is the first in-depth study of the work of Sebastião Salgado, widely considered the greatest documentary photographer of our time. For more than three decades, Salgado has produced thematic photo-essays depicting the massive human displacement brought about by industrialization and conflict. These projects usually take years to complete and include pictures from dozens of countries. Parvati Nair offers detailed analyses of Salgado’s best-known photo-essays, including Workers (1993) and Migrations (2000), as well as Genesis, which he began in 2004. With Genesis, Salgado has turned his lens from human turmoil to those parts of the planet not yet ravaged by modernity. Interpreting the photographer’s oeuvre, Nair engages broad questions about aesthetics, history, ethics, and politics in documentary photography. At the same time, she draws on conversations with Salgado and his wife and partner, Lélia Wanick Salgado, to explain the significance of the photographer’s life history, including his roots in Brazil and his training as an economist; his perspectives; and his artistic method. Underpinning all of Salgado’s major projects is a concern with displacement, exploitation, and destruction—of people, communities, and land. Salgado’s images exalt reality, compelling viewers to look and, according to Nair, to envision the world otherwise.
For Dear Life chronicles feminist and artist Carol Jacobsen's deep commitment to the causes of justice and human rights, and focuses a critical lens on an American criminal-legal regime that imparts racist, gendered, and classist modes of punishment to women lawbreakers. Jacobsen's tireless work with and for women prisoners is charted in this rich assemblage of images and texts that reveal the collective strategies she and the prisoners have employed to receive justice. The book gives evidence that women's lawbreaking is often an effort to survive gender-based violence. The faces, letters, and testimonies of dozens of incarcerated women with whom Jacobsen has worked present a visceral yet politicized chorus of voices against the criminal-legal systems that fail us all. Their voices are joined by those of leading feminist scholars in essays that illuminate the arduous methods of dissent that Jacobsen and the others have employed to win freedom for more than a dozen women sentenced to life imprisonment, and to free many more from torturous prison conditions. The book is a document to Jacobsen's love and lifelong commitment to creating feminist justice and freedom, and to the efficacy of her artistic, legal, and extralegal political actions on behalf of women.
In his follow-up to Tavern League: Portraits of Wisconsin Bars, Carl Corey turns his camera on Wisconsin family-owned businesses in existence fifty years or longer. The businesses portrayed here—bakeries and barbecue joints, funeral homes and furniture builders, cheesemakers, fishermen, ferry boat drivers—have survived against all the odds, weathering tough economic times and big-business competition. The owners are loyal to their employees, their families, and themselves. And they are integral to their local economies and social fabric. The services and goods they provide are usually for neighbors and friends. Generations serve generations, creating lasting relationships and strong, vibrant neighborhoods and rural communities. In For Love and Money, Carl Corey provides indelible glimpses of an increasingly endangered way of life. The Museum of Wisconsin Art’s Graham Reid has said, “As current and future generations come and go, these pictures will survive in the hands of the subjects, collectors, museums, and galleries. Will the businesses featured enjoy a similar longevity? Only time will tell, and we can only watch and hope, but Carl Corey has ensured that they will not be forgotten.”
"My energies for near a lifetime have been used almost entirely to win such prominence as I could in outdoor photography."—H. H. Bennett
Henry Hamilton Bennett (1843–1908) became a celebrated photographer in the half-century following the American Civil War. Bennett is admired for his superb depictions of dramatic landscapes of the Dells of the Wisconsin River and also for his many technical innovations in photography, including a stop-action shutter and a revolving solar printing house that is now housed at the Smithsonian Institution. With his instantaneous shutter, he gained recognition for his striking images of moving subjects, such as lumber raftsmen shooting the river rapids and his son Ashley leaping in midair from a bluff to the craggy pillar of Stand Rock. Less well-known are Bennett’s splendid urban photographs of nineteenth-century Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul.
This engaging biography of H. H. Bennett tells his life story, illustrated throughout with his remarkable photographs, some of them rarely viewed before. It draws on the photographer’s own letters and journals, along with other family documents, to portray the sweep of his career and personal life. An important figure in the history of photography, he also contributed to the growth of American tourism: his nationally distributed stereoscopic views of Dells rock formations and his portraits of local Ho-Chunk Indians played a significant role in creating the Wisconsin Dells as the popular tourist destination it is today. Despite personal challenges—a crippling Civil War injury, the death of his first wife, and continual financial worries—Bennett produced an extensive portfolio that captures the midwestern culture of his time. He accepted commissions in the 1890s to document Chicago’s modern skyscrapers, grand residences of Milwaukee’s entrepreneurs and sailing ships in its harbor, enormous scenic panoramas along the routes of Wisconsin railroads, and sparkling ice palaces lit by fireworks at the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
Finalist, Midwest Regional Interest, Midwest Book Awards
For more than a century, Harlem has been the epicenter of black America, the celebrated heart of African American life and culture—but it has also been a byword for the problems that have long plagued inner-city neighborhoods: poverty, crime, violence, disinvestment, and decay.
Photographer Camilo José Vergara has been chronicling the neighborhood for forty-three years, and Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto is an unprecedented record of urban change. Vergara began his documentation of Harlem in the tradition of such masters as Helen Levitt and Aaron Siskind, and he later turned his focus on the neighborhood’s urban fabric, both the buildings that compose it and the life and culture embedded in them. By repeatedly returning to the same locations over the course of decades, Vergara is able to show us a community that is constantly changing—some areas declining, as longtime businesses give way to empty storefronts, graffiti, and garbage, while other areas gentrify, with corporate chain stores coming in to compete with the mom-and-pops. He also captures the ever-present street life of this densely populated neighborhood, from stoop gatherings to graffiti murals memorializing dead rappers to impersonators honoring Michael Jackson in front of the Apollo, as well as the growth of tourism and racial integration.
Woven throughout the images is Vergara’s own account of his project and his experience of living and working in Harlem. Taken together, his unforgettable words and images tell the story of how Harlem and its residents navigated the segregation, dereliction and slow recovery of the closing years of the twentieth century and the boom and racial integration of the twenty-first century. A deeply personal investigation, Harlem will take its place with the best portrayals of urban life.
I Am Alaskan
Brian Adams University of Alaska Press, 2013 Library of Congress F910.A63 2013 | Dewey Decimal 979.8
What does an Alaskan look like? When asked to visualize someone from Alaska, the image most people conjure up is one of a face lost in a parka, surrounded by snow. Missing from this image is the vibrant diversity of those who call themselves Alaskans, as well as the true essence of the place. Brian Adams, a rising star in photography, aims to change all this with his captivating new collection, I Am Alaskan.
In this full-color tribute, Adams entices us to reconsider our ideas of this unique and compelling land and its equally individual residents. He captures subjects on urban streets and in rural villages, revealing what daily life in Alaska is really like. The portraits focus on moments both ordinary and extraordinary, serious and playful, while capturing Alaskans at their most natural. Subjects range from Alaska Native villagers to rarely seen portraits of famous Alaskans, including Sarah Palin, Vic Fischer, and Lance Mackey. Through photographs, Adams also explores his own half-Iñupiat, half–American Alaska identity in the process, revealing how he came to define himself and the state in which he lives. Frame by frame, Adams powerfully and honestly shows what it means to be an Alaskan.
I Love My Selfie
Essay by Ilan Stavans / Auto-Portraits by ADÁL Duke University Press, 2017 Library of Congress N7619.S73 2017
What explains our current obsession with selfies? In I Love My Selfie noted cultural critic Ilan Stavans explores the selfie's historical and cultural roots by discussing everything from Greek mythology and Shakespeare to Andy Warhol, James Franco, and Pope Francis. He sees selfies as tools people use to disguise or present themselves as spontaneous and casual. This collaboration includes a portfolio of fifty autoportraits by the artist ADÁL; he and Stavans use them as a way to question the notion of the self and to engage with artists, celebrities, technology, identity, and politics. Provocative and engaging, I Love My Selfie will change the way readers think about this unavoidable phenomenon of twenty-first-century life.
Iraq | Perspectives
Benjamin Lowy Duke University Press, 2011 Library of Congress DS79.762L69 2011 | Dewey Decimal 956.70443
Selected by William Eggleston as Winner The Center for Documentary Studies / Honickman First Book Prize in Photography
Benjamin Lowy’s powerful and arresting color photographs, taken over a six-year period through Humvee windows and military-issue night vision goggles, capture the desolation of a war-ravaged Iraq as well as the tension and anxiety of both U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians. To photograph on the streets unprotected was impossible for Lowy, so he made images that illuminate this difficulty by shooting photographs through the windows and goggles meant to help him, and soldiers, to see. In doing so he provides us with a new way of looking at the war—an entirely different framework for regarding and thinking about the everyday activities of Iraqis in a devastated landscape and the movements of soldiers on patrol, as well as the alarm and apprehension of nighttime raids.
“Iraq was a land of blast walls and barbed wire fences. I made my first image of a concrete blast wall through the window of my armored car. These pictures show a fragment of Iraqi daily life taken by a transient passenger in a Humvee; yet they are a window to a world where work, play, tension, grief, survival, and everything in between are as familiar as the events of our own lives. . . . [In] the ‘Nightvision’ images . . . as soldiers weave through the houses and bedrooms of civilians during nighttime military raids, they encounter the faces of their suspects as well as bystanders, many of whom are parents protecting their children. . . . I hope that these images provide the viewer with momentary illumination of the fear and desperation that is war.”—Benjamin Lowy
Working in Germany between the two world wars, John Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld, 1891–1968) developed an innovative method of appropriating and reusing photographs to powerful political effect. As a pioneer of modern photomontage, he sliced up mass media photos with his iconic scissors and then reassembled the fragments into compositions that utterly transformed the meaning of the originals. In John Heartfield and the Agitated Image, Andrés Mario Zervigón explores this crucial period in the life and work of a brilliant, radical artist whose desire to disclose the truth obscured by the mainstream press and imperial propaganda made him a de facto prosecutor of Germany’s visual culture.
Zervigón charts the evolution of Heartfield’s photomontage from an act of antiwar resistance into a formalized and widely disseminated political art in the Weimar Republic. Appearing on everything from campaign posters to book covers, the photomonteur’s notorious pictures challenged well-worn assumption and correspondingly walked a dangerous tightrope over the political, social, and cultural cauldron that was interwar Germany. Zervigón explains how Heartfield’s engagement with montage arose from a broadly-shared dissatisfaction with photography’s capacity to represent the modern world. The result was likely the most important combination of avant-garde art and politics in the twentieth century.
A rare look at Heartfield’s early and middle years as an artist and designer, this book provides a new understanding of photography’s role at this critical juncture in history.
Siegfried Kracauer was a leading figure on the Weimar arts scene and one of the foremost representatives of the Frankfurt School of critical theory. Best known for a wealth of writings on sociology and film theory, his influence is felt in the work of many of the period’s preeminent thinkers, including the critic Theodor W. Adorno, who once claimed he owed more to Kracauer than any other intellectual.
Kracauer.Photographic Archive, a companion volume to The Past’s Threshold: Essays on Photography, collects previously unpublished photographs by Siegfried and Elisabeth, “Lili,” Kracauer. With its remarkably rich material, the book tells the story of the Kracauer’s close working relationship, from their marriage in Germany to their escape to Paris and the war and postwar years in the United States. While neither Kracauer nor his wife trained in photography, their portraits, city views, and landscapes evince impressive aesthetic and technical skill, while simultaneously shedding light on their lives marked by exile and flight.
In 1975, German readers were introduced to the Rheinlandschaften, a collection of stunning images of the Rhineland captured in the first half of the twentieth century by photographer August Sander (1876–1964). This fresh edition, now in English, brings Sander’s work to a new audience and into our own time.
These photographs showcase a variety of scenes, from a sunrise over Cologne to the slopes of the Rhine valley. The Rhine River flows through many of these pictures, its dynamic curves and lively current leading the eye through an intriguing mix of natural and urban landscapes. A new essay by art historian Wolfgang Kemp provides context for Sander’s work while introducing his contemporaries, including the writer Hans Ludwig Mathar and the painter Franz M. Jansen. Also explored are the ties between Sander’s landscapes and his portrait photography, which is celebrated worldwide. Crucially, Kemp highlights the need to consider the Rhineland’s unique political situation in the 1920s and 1930s for any discussion of Sander’s artistic approach.
Shining welcome light on the full range of Sander’s practice, this book offers a glorious journey through the landscapes that most affected him.
Lee Miller: A Life
Carolyn Burke University of Chicago Press, 2007 Library of Congress TR140.M55B87 2007 | Dewey Decimal 779.092
Lee Miller’s life embodied all the contradictions and complications of the twentieth century: a model and photographer, muse and reporter, sexual adventurer and domestic goddess, she was also America's first female war correspondent. Carolyn Burke, a biographer and art critic, here reveals how the muse who inspired Man Ray, Cocteau, and Picasso could be the same person who unflinchingly photographed the horrors of Buchenwald and Dachau. Burke captures all the verve and energy of Miller’s life: from her early childhood trauma to her stint as a Vogue model and art-world ingénue, from her harrowing years as a war correspondent to her unconventional marriages and passion for gourmet cooking. A lavishly illustrated story of art and beauty, sex and power, Modernism and Surrealism, Lee Miller illuminates an astonishing woman’s journey from art object to artist.
Sight is central to the medium of photography. But what happens when the subjects of photographic portraits cannot look back at the photographer or even see their own image? An in-depth pictorial study of blind schoolchildren in Mexico, Look at me draws attention to (and distinctions between) the activity of sight and the consciousness of form.
Combining aspects of his earlier, acclaimed street work with an innovative approach to portraiture, Chicago-based photographer Jed Fielding has concentrated closely on these children’s features and gestures, probing the enigmatic boundaries between surface and interior, innocence and knowing, beauty and grotesque. Design, composition, and the play of light and shadow are central elements in these photographs, but the images are much more than formal experiments; they confront disability in a way that affirms life. Fielding’s sightless subjects project a vitality that seems to extend beyond the limits of self-consciousness. In collaborative, joyful participation with the children, he has made pictures that reveal essential gestures of absorption and the basic expressions of our creatureliness.
Fielding’s work achieves what only great art, and particularly great portraiture can: it launches and then complicates a process of identification across the barriers that separate us from each other. Look at me contains more than sixty arresting images from which we often want to look away, but into which we are nevertheless drawn by their deep humanity and palpable tenderness. This is a monograph of uncommon significance by an important American photographer.
Charles Mintz The Ohio State University Press, 2016 Library of Congress TR680.L87 2016 | Dewey Decimal 770.92
The Lustron Corporation manufactured porcelain-baked, enamel-coated all-steel houses between 1948 and 1950 in Columbus, OH. Virtually everything—exterior siding, roof, interior walls, cabinets, and ceilings—was made out of this material. The components were shipped to site on specially designed trailers and assembled by local contractors using only wrenches. About 2,500 Lustrons were sold, mostly in the eastern United States, but as far afield as Miami and Los Alamos. Roughly two-thirds are still being used today.
A remarkable cross section of individuals and families live in these modest (~1100 sq. ft.) homes. While certainly diverse in age and place in life, the homeowners are still firmly working class. Everyone who lives in a Lustron home has an opinion about it. The material is miserable to cut or drill into. Repairs are more about metalworking and enamel finishing than carpentry or house painting. And magnets tend to be a popular solution for hanging objects inside and outside the steel walls.
Four years ago, Charles Mintz set out to photograph the people living in these homes. The residents, owners, or both were photographed outside and occasionally inside. Mintz used a large format wooden camera and available light. This book features 65 of the resulting photographs and essays from Shannon Thomas Perich, Curator of the Photographic History Collection at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and Jeffrey Head, author and architecture critic.
Mark C. Taylor University of Chicago Press, 2007 Library of Congress BF1891.B64T39 2007 | Dewey Decimal 203.7
The desert has long been a theme in Mark C. Taylor’s work, from his inquiries into the religious significance of Las Vegas to his writings on earthworks artist Michael Heizer. At once haunted by absence and loss, the desert, for Taylor, is a place of exile and wandering, of temptation and tribulation. Bones, in turn, speak to his abiding interest in remnants, ruins, ritual, and immanence. Taylor combines his fascination in the detritus of the desert and its philosophical significance with his work in photography in Mystic Bones.
A collection of remarkably elegant close-up images of weathered bones—remains of cattle, elk, and deer skeletons gathered from the desert of the American West—Mystic Bones pairs each photograph with a philosophical aphorism. These images are buttressed by a major essay, “Rubbings of Reality,” in which Taylor explores the use of bones in the religious rituals of native inhabitants of the Western desert and, more broadly, the appearance of bones in myth and religious reality.
Meditating on the way in which bones paradoxically embody both the personal and the impersonal—at one time they are our very substance, but eventually they become our last remnants, anonymous, memorializing oblivion—Taylor here suggests ways in which natural processes can be thought of as art, and bones as art objects. Bones, Taylor writes, “draw us elsewhere.” To follow their traces beyond the edge of the human is to wander into ageless times and open spaces where everything familiar becomes strange.
By revealing beauty hidden in the most unexpected places, these haunting images refigure death in a way that allows life to be seen anew. A bold new work from a respected philosopher of religion, Mystic Bones is Taylor’s his most personal statement of after-God theology.
Reveals the career of an influential but underappreciated photojournalist.
Photographer Nacho LÃ³pez was Mexico's Eugene Smith, fusing social commitment with searing imagery to dramatize the plight of the helpless, the poor, and the marginalized in the pages of glossy illustrated magazines. Even today, LÃ³pez's photographs forcefully belie the picturesque exoticism that is invariably presented as the essence of Mexico.
In Nacho LÃ³pez, Mexican Photographer, John Mraz offers the first full-length study in English of this influential photojournalist and provides a close visual analysis of more than fifty of LÃ³pez's most important photographs. Mraz first sets LÃ³pez's work in the historical and cultural context of the authoritarian presidentialism that characterized Mexican politics in the 1950s, the cult of wealth and celebrity promoted by Mexico's professional photographers, and the government's attempts to modernize and industrialize Mexico at almost any cost. Mraz skillfully explores the implications of LÃ³pez's imagery in this setting: the extent to which his photographs might constitute further victimization of his downtrodden subjects, the relationship between them and the middle-class readers of the magazines for which LÃ³pez worked, and the success with which his photographs challenged Mexico's economic and political structures.
Mraz contrasts the photos LÃ³pez took with those that were selected by his editors for publication. He also compares LÃ³pez's images with his theories about documentary photography, and considers LÃ³pez's photographs alongside the work of Robert Capa, Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and SebastiÃ£o Salgado. LÃ³pez's imagery is further analyzed in relation to the Mexican Golden Age cinema inspired by Sergei Eisenstein, the pioneering digital imagery of Pedro Meyer, and the work of Manuel Ã?lvarez Bravo, who Mraz provocatively argues was the first Mexican photographer to take an anti-picturesque stance.
The definitive English-language assessment of Nacho LÃ³pez's career, this volume also explores such broader topics as the nature of the photographic essay and the role of the media in effecting social change.
"John Mraz writes clearly and passionately. His excellent study will elevate LÃ³pez into the pantheon of photographers who have combined social commitment and artistic expression and creativity." Robert M. Levine
"If Manuel Alvarez Bravo is Mexico's version of Edward Weston, then Nacho LÃ³pez is probably the equivalent of W. Eugene Smith--that is to say, a photojournalist of international stature. Documentary photographers are all too often static bystanders, but LÃ³pez was a dynamic dissident. To appreciate his work, you have to be in possession of John Mraz's profound knowledge of Mexican social history. This is one of the most important contributions to the history of photography of the last twenty years." Mike Weaver
John Mraz is research professor at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades at the Universidad AutÃ³noma de Puebla in Mexico.
The Oldest Living Things in the World is an epic journey through time and space. Over the past decade, artist Rachel Sussman has researched, worked with biologists, and traveled the world to photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older. Spanning from Antarctica to Greenland, the Mojave Desert to the Australian Outback, the result is a stunning and unique visual collection of ancient organisms unlike anything that has been created in the arts or sciences before, insightfully and accessibly narrated by Sussman along the way.
Her work is both timeless and timely, and spans disciplines, continents, and millennia. It is underscored by an innate environmentalism and driven by Sussman’s relentless curiosity. She begins at “year zero,” and looks back from there, photographing the past in the present. These ancient individuals live on every continent and range from Greenlandic lichens that grow only one centimeter a century, to unique desert shrubs in Africa and South America, a predatory fungus in Oregon, Caribbean brain coral, to an 80,000-year-old colony of aspen in Utah. Sussman journeyed to Antarctica to photograph 5,500-year-old moss; Australia for stromatolites, primeval organisms tied to the oxygenation of the planet and the beginnings of life on Earth; and to Tasmania to capture a 43,600-year-old self-propagating shrub that’s the last individual of its kind. Her portraits reveal the living history of our planet—and what we stand to lose in the future. These ancient survivors have weathered millennia in some of the world’s most extreme environments, yet climate change and human encroachment have put many of them in danger. Two of her subjects have already met with untimely deaths by human hands.
Alongside the photographs, Sussman relays fascinating – and sometimes harrowing – tales of her global adventures tracking down her subjects and shares insights from the scientists who research them. The oldest living things in the world are a record and celebration of the past, a call to action in the present, and a barometer of our future.
Walter Benjamin’s 1931 essay “A Short History of Photography” is a landmark in the understanding and criticism of the medium, offering surprising new takes on such photographic pioneers as David Octavius Hill and Nicéphore Niépce and their aesthetic and technical achievements.
On Photography presents a new translation of that essay along with a number of other writings by Benjamin, some of them presented in English for the first time. Translator and editor Esther Leslie sets Benjamin’s work in context with prefaces to each piece and contributes a substantial introduction that considers Benjamin’s engagement with photography in all its forms, including early commercial studio photography, the uses of photography in science, and much more.
Siegfried Kracauer was a leading intellectual figure of the Weimar Republic and one of the foremost representatives of critical theory. Best known for a wealth of writings on sociology and film theory, his influence is felt in the work of many of the period’s preeminent thinkers, including his friends, the critic Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno, who once claimed he owed more to Kracauer than any other contemporary.
This volume brings together for the first time all of Kracauer’s essays on photography that he wrote between 1927 and 1933 as a journalist for the Frankfurter Zeitung, as well as an essay that appeared in the Magazine of Art after his exile in America, where he would spend the last twenty-five years of his life. The texts show Kracauer as a pioneering thinker of the photographic medium in addition to the important historian, and theorist, of film that he is acknowledged to have been. His writings here build a cohesive theory on the affinities between photography, memory and history.
With a foreword by Philippe Despoix offering insights into Kracauer’s theories and the historical context, and a Curriculum vitae in pictures, photographs from the Kracauer estate annotated by Maria Zinfert.
People of the Big Voice tells the visual history of Ho-Chunk families at the turn of the twentieth century and beyond as depicted through the lens of Black River Falls, Wisconsin studio photographer, Charles Van Schaick. The family relationships between those who “sat for the photographer” are clearly visible in these images—sisters, friends, families, young couples—who appear and reappear to fill in a chronicle spanning from 1879 to 1942. Also included are candid shots of Ho-Chunk on the streets of Black River Falls, outside family dwellings, and at powwows. As author and Ho-Chunk tribal member Amy Lonetree writes, “A significant number of the images were taken just a few short years after the darkest, most devastating period for the Ho-Chunk. Invasion, diseases, warfare, forced assimilation, loss of land, and repeated forced removals from our beloved homelands left the Ho-Chunk people in a fight for their culture and their lives.”
The book includes three introductory essays (a biographical essay by Matthew Daniel Mason, a critical essay by Amy Lonetree, and a reflection by Tom Jones) and 300-plus duotone photographs and captions in gallery style. Unique to the project are the identifications in the captions, which were researched over many years with the help of tribal members and genealogists, and include both English and Ho-Chunk names.
Commissioned by the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University to create an artwork reflecting on the importance of freshwater, Milwaukee-based photographer Kevin J. Miyazaki embarked on a two-week, 1,800-mile drive around Lake Michigan. He traveled its perimeter, through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, to produce what he calls “a contemporary portrait of Lake Michigan.” Miyazaki set up his portable studio on beaches, in parks, on boat docks, and in backyards, photographing those he met along the way. From residents, environmental scientists, and artists to a Native American water rights advocate, surfers, and commercial fishermen, Lake Michigan holds a powerful place in the life of each. Many shared their thoughts with him on why this body of water is important to all.
Miyazaki also photographed the water as he went, creating waterscapes of the ever-changing lake affected by weather and time. Perimeter gathers these images together, creating a diverse portrait of both people and a place, encapsulating Lake Michigan’s significance to those who are drawn to it.
In 1875, after being acquitted for the murder of his wife’s lover, Eadweard Muybridge spent a year photographing along the Central American Pacific Coast, particularly in Guatemala and Panamá. Upon his return to California in 1876, he published a very limited number of albums of the photographs (11 are known), each of which was unique in size and scope. In 2007, photographer Byron Wolfe (born 1967) tracked down and cataloged every known Muybridge Central American photograph. Then, with cultural geographer Scott Brady, he traveled to many of Muybridge’s sites to rephotograph them. Through photographic collage, interpretive rephotography, illustrations and essays, this book examines an exceptionally rare series by Muybridge. Also included is a catalogue of every known Muybridge Central American picture.
This book is the first to question both why and how the colonialist mythologies represented by the work of photographer Eliot Elisofon persist. It documents and discusses a heterogeneous practice of American coloniality of power as it explores Elisofon’s career as war photographer-correspondent and staff photographer for LIFE, filmmaker, author, artist, and collector of “primitive art” and sculpture. It focuses on three areas: Elisofon’s narcissism, voyeurism, and sexism; his involvement in the homogenizing of Western social orders and colonial legacies; and his enthused mission of “sending home” a mass of still-life photographs, annexed African artifacts, and assumed vintage knowledge. The book does not challenge his artistic merit or his fascinating personality; what it does question is his production and imagining of “difference.” As the text travels from World War II to colonialism, postcolonialism, and the Cold War, from Casablanca to Leopoldville (Kinshasa), it proves to be a necessarily strenuous and provocative trip.
As anyone who has wielded a camera knows, photography has a unique relationship to chance. It also represents a struggle to reconcile aesthetic aspiration with a mechanical process. Robin Kelsey reveals how daring innovators expanded the aesthetic limits of photography in order to create art for a modern world.
Gustave Le Gray (1820-1882) was one of the most technically accomplished and aesthetically enlightened of the early "artist-photographers." Trained as a painter of portraits and landscapes, Le Gray was attracted in the 1840s to the artistic potential of photographic processes. As a photographer he evolved and refined much of photography's primary aesthetic theory. By 1855 he had influenced, if not taught, every important photographer in France.
Drawing on entirely new material Eugenia Parry Janis fully analyzes the life and work of Le Gray and demonstrates the originality of his artistic achievement in the context of discoveries about his personal and professional history. Janis, approaching the photographs of Le Gray with the methods and sensibilities of an art historian, reveals telling connections between Le Gray's choices of subject matter and formal means of presentation and the existing pictorial practice of other media such as painting. This same approach makes her sensitive to Le Gray's departures from such traditional practice, and she skillfully illustrates how he evolved from student painter into master photographer. In doing so she gives us a glimpse of the way in which Le Gray's manipulation of the photographic process was always informed by his pictorial needs and by his developing style.
Etienne-Jules Marey was an inventor whose methods of recording movement revolutionized our way of visualizing time and motion. Best remembered for his chronophotography, Marey constructed a single-camera system that led the way to cinematography. Picturing Time, the first complete survey of Marey's work, investigates the far reaching effects of Marey's inventions on stream-of-consciousness literature, psychoanalysis, Bergsonian philosophy, and the art of cubists and futurists.
Braun offers a fascinating look at how Marey's chronophotography was used to express the profound transformation in understanding and experiencing time that occurred in the late nineteenth century. Featuring 335 illustrations, Picturing Time includes many unpublished examples of Marey's chronophotographs and cinematic work. It also contains a complete bibliography of his writings and the first catalog of his films, photographic prints, and recently discovered negatives.
One of the most original and memorable photographers of the twentieth century, Brassaï was also a journalist, sculptor, and writer. He took great pride in his writing, and he loved literature and language-French most of all. When he arrived in Paris in 1924, Brassaï began teaching himself French by reading Proust. Captured by the sensuality and visual strategies of Proust's writing, Brassaï soon became convinced that he had discovered a kindred spirit. Brassaï wrote: "In his battle against Time, that enemy of our precarious existence, ever on the offensive though never openly so, it was in photography, also born of an age-old longing to halt the moment, to wrest it from the flux of duration in order to 'fix' it forever in a semblance of eternity, that Proust found his best ally." He quoted Proust in his own writing, and from the annotated books in his library, we know that he spent a lifetime studying and dissecting Proust's prose, often line by line.
Drawing on his own experience as a photographer and author, Brassaï discovers a neglected aspect of Proust's interests, offering us a fascinating study of the role of photography both in Proust's oeuvre and in early-twentieth-century culture. Brassaï shows us how Proust was excessively interested in possessing portraits of his acquaintances and how the process by which he remembered and wrote was quite similar to the ways in which photographs register and reveal life's images. This book-beautifully translated by Richard Howard-features previously obscure photographs from Brassaï's High Society series and offers a rare glimpse into two of France's most fascinating artistic minds.
Before publishing his pioneering book How the Other Half Lives—a photojournalistic investigation into the poverty of New York’s tenement houses, home to three quarters of the city’s population—Jacob Riis (1849-1914) spent his first years in the United States as an immigrant and itinerant laborer, barely surviving on his carpentry skills until he landed a job as a muckraking reporter. These early experiences provided Riis with an understanding of what it was like to be poor in the immigrant communities that populated New York’s slums, and it was this empathy that would shine through in his iconic photos.
With Rediscovering Jacob Riis, art historian Bonnie Yochelson and historian Daniel Czitrom place Jacob Riis’s images in historical context even as they expose a clear sightline to the present. In the first half of their book, Czitrom explores Riis’s reporting and activism within the gritty specifics of Gilded Age New York: its new immigrants, its political machines, its fiercely competitive journalism, its evangelical reformers, and its labor movement. In delving into Riis’s intellectual education and the lasting impact of How the Other Half Lives, Czitrom shows that though Riis argued for charity, not sociopolitical justice, the empathy that drove his work continues to inspire urban reformers today.
In the second half of the book, Yochelson describes for the first time Riis’s photographic practice: his initial reliance on amateur photographers to take the photographs he needed, his own use of the camera, and then his collecting of photographs by professionals, who by 1900 were documenting social reform efforts for government agencies and charities. She argues that while Riis is rightly considered a revolutionary in the history of photography, he was not a photographic artist. Instead, Riis was a writer and lecturer who first harnessed the power of photography to affect social change.
As staggering inequality continues to be an urgent political topic, this book, illustrated with nearly seventy of Riis’s photographs, will serve as a stunning reminder of what has changed, and what has not.
For more than forty years, Helen M. Stummer has captured images depicting the dignity, humanity, and suffering of people living in conditions of poverty. Her efforts taught her to understand firsthand the resilience of people living in insufferable conditions. In her inspiring memoir, Risking Life and Lens, Stummer recounts her experiences as a socially-concerned documentary photographer whose passion for her work overcame her fears.
Stummer’s images, from the mean streets of Manhattan and Newark, New Jersey, to the back woods of Maine and the mountains of Guatemala, expose the myths of poverty and serve as a metaphor for her challenges in her own life. The 159 photographs reproduced here recount Stummer’s journey as an artist and her personal quest for truth.
Risking Life and Lens shares Stummer’s work and educational efforts and it provides valuable insights about race, class, and social justice—issues that continue to divide the country and the world. Her work has created change in both her own life and the lives of those who view it.
A photographic diary of a small Midwestern farm and the family who’ve made it their home
In Roshara Journal, father-and-son team Jerry and Steve Apps share the monthly happenings at their family’s farm in central Wisconsin. Featuring Steve’s stunning photos and fifty years of Jerry’s journal entries, Roshara Journal captures the changes—both from month to month and over the decades—on the landscape and farmstead.
The Apps family has owned Roshara since 1966. There they nurture a prairie restoration and pine plantation, maintain a large garden that feeds three generations, observe wildlife species by the dozens, and support a population of endangered butterflies. In documenting life on this piece of land, Jerry and Steve remind us how, despite the pace and challenges of modern life, the seasons continue to influence our lives in ways large and small. Jerry explains that his journal entries become much more than mere observations: "It seems that when I write about something—a bur oak tree, for example—that old tree becomes a part of me. . . . Writing takes me to a place that goes beyond observation and understanding, a place filled with feeling and meaning."
In the tradition of Bernd Heinrich in Maine, Barry Lopez in the Canadian Arctic, and Aldo Leopold just an hour down the road in Baraboo, Jerry and Steve Apps combine observation, experience, and reflection to tell a profound story about one place in the world.
Snapshot Versions of Life
Richard Chalfen University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 Library of Congress TR183.C47 1987 | Dewey Decimal 770.1
Snapshot Versions of Life is an important foray into the culture of photography and home life from an anthropologist’s perspective. Examining what he calls “Home Mode” photography, Richard Chalfen explores snapshots, slide shows, family albums, home movies, and home videos, uncovering what people do with their photos as well as what their personal photos do for them.
Chalfen’s “Polaroid People” are recognizable—if ironically viewed—relatives, uncles, aunts, and All-American kids. As members of “Kodak Culture” they watch home movies, take pictures of newborn babies, and even, in their darker moments, scratch out the faces of disliked relatives in group photographs. He examines who shoots these photos and why, as well as how they think (or don’t) of planning, editing, and exhibiting their shots. Chalfen’s analysis reveals the culturally structured behavior underlying seemingly spontaneous photographic activities.
In 1939, just before graduating from high school in the small town of Ridgeway in northeast Iowa, Everett Kuntz spent his entire savings of $12.50 on a 35mm Argus AF camera. He made a camera case from a worn-out boot, scraps from a tin can, and a clasp from his mother’s purse. For the next several years, especially during the summers when he worked on his parents’ dairy farm, he clicked the shutter of his trusty Argus all around the quiet town.
Everett bought movie reel film in bulk from a mail-order house, rolled his own film, and developed it in a closet at home, but he never had the money to print his photographs. More than two thousand negatives stayed in a box while he married, raised a family, and worked as an electrical engineer in the Twin Cities. When he became ill with cancer in the fall of 2002—sixty years after he had developed the last of his bulk film—Everett opened his time capsule and printed the images from his youth. He died in 2003, having brought his childhood town back to life just as he was leaving it.
A sense of peace radiates from these images. Whether skinny-dipping in the Turkey River, wheelbarrow-racing, threshing oats, milking cows, visiting with relatives after church, or hanging out at the drugstore or the movies, Ridgeway’s hardworking citizens are modest and trusting and luminous in their graceful harmony and their unguarded affection for each other. Visiting the town in 2006 as he was writing the text to accompany these photographs, Jim Heynen crafted vignettes that perfectly complement these rediscovered images by blending fact and fiction to give context and voice to Ridgeway’s citizens.
In Tavern League, photographer Carl Corey documents a unique and important segment of the Wisconsin community. Our bars are unique micro-communities, offering patrons a sense of belonging. Many of these bars are the only public gathering place in the rural communities they serve. These simple taverns offer the individual the valuable opportunity for face to face conversation and camaraderie, particularly as people become more physically isolated through the accelerated use of the internet’s social networking, mobile texting, gaming, and the rapid-fire of email.
This collection of 60 pictures captures the Wisconsin tavern as it is today. Carl Corey’s view is both familiar and undeniably unique, his pictures resonant with anyone who has set foot in a Wisconsin tavern. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Mary Louise Schumacher has written, “Carl Corey’s photographs . . . document iconic American places that are taken for granted. . . . They are comforting images, places we know, but also eerie and remote, presented with a sense of romance and nostalgia that suggests they are already past.”
Pentecostal serpent handlers, also known as Signs Followers, hold a literal interpretation of a verse in the New Testament’s Gospel of Mark which states that, among other abilities, true believers shall be able to “take up serpents.” For more than a century members of this uniquely Appalachian religious tradition have handled venomous snakes during their worship services, risking death as evidence of their unwavering faith. Despite scores of deaths from snakebite and the closure of numerous churches in recent decades, there remains a small contingent of serpent handlers devoted to keeping the practice alive.
Who are the serpent handlers? What motivates them to continue their potentially lethal practices through the generations? Documentary photographer Lauren Pond traveled to West Virginia in search of answers to these questions. There she met Pastor Randy “Mack” Wolford, one of the best-known Signs Following preachers in the region, and spent the following year documenting Mack and his family. The course of her work changed dramatically in May 2012, when Mack, then forty-four years old, suffered a fatal rattlesnake bite during a worship service she attended. Pond photographed the events that followed and has continued her relationship with Mack’s family.
Test of Faith provides a deeply nuanced, personal look at serpent handling that not only invites greater understanding of a religious practice that has long faced derision and criticism; it also serves as a meditation on the photographic process, its ethics, and its capacity to generate empathy.
Published by Duke University Press and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University
Who was Vivian Maier? Many people know her as the reclusive Chicago nanny who wandered the city for decades, constantly snapping photographs, which were unseen until they were discovered in a seemingly abandoned storage locker. They revealed her to be an inadvertent master of twentieth-century American street photography. Not long after, the news broke that Maier had recently died and had no surviving relatives. Soon the whole world knew about her preternatural work, shooting her to stardom almost overnight.
But, as Pamela Bannos reveals in this meticulous and passionate biography, this story of the nanny savant has blinded us to Maier’s true achievements, as well as her intentions. Most important, Bannos argues, Maier was not a nanny who moonlighted as a photographer; she was a photographer who supported herself as a nanny. In Vivian Maier: A Photographer’s Life and Afterlife, Bannos contrasts Maier’s life with the mythology that strangers—mostly the men who have profited from her work—have created around her absence. Bannos shows that Maier was extremely conscientious about how her work was developed, printed, and cropped, even though she also made a clear choice never to display it. She places Maier’s fierce passion for privacy alongside the recent spread of her work around the world, and she explains Maier’s careful adjustments of photographic technique, while explaining how the photographs have been misconstrued or misidentified. As well, Bannos uncovers new information about Maier’s immediate family, including her difficult brother, Karl—relatives that once had been thought not to exist.
This authoritative and engrossing biography shows that the real story of Vivian Maier, a true visionary artist, is even more compelling than the myth.
In compelling, often stunning black-and-white photographs, The Weather and a Place to Live portrays the manmade landscape of the western United States. Here we come face to face with the surreal intersection of the American appetite for suburban development and the resistant, rolling, arid country of the desert West. Steven B. Smith’s extraordinary photographs take us into the contemporary reality of sprawling suburbs reconfiguring what was once vast, unpopulated territory. With arresting concision and an unblinking eye, Smith shows how a new frontier is being won, and suggests too how it may be lost in its very emergence. Since the early 1990s Smith has been making large-format photographs in California, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. Based on this body of work, he was chosen as winner of the biennial Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography.
The power of these photographs lies in part in Smith’s unusual knowledge of the places he portrays. Raised in Utah, Smith has worked on construction crews, and he was a contractor in California after living on the East Coast for a few years. When he moved to Los Angeles in 1991, he writes, “I was so astounded by what I saw happening to the landscape as it was being developed that I started photographing it immediately. The landscapes I saw were scraped bare, re-sculpted, sealed, and then covered so as not to erode away before the building process could be completed.”
Smith’s photographs offer a disturbing vision of the future of our planet, where the desire for home ownership is pitted against the costs of development in epic proportions. These altered landscapes force us to consider the consequences of human design battling natural forces across great expanses, a fragile balancing act and a contorted equation in which nature becomes both inspiration and invisible adversary. Smith’s elegant photographs of this constructed universe confront us with the beauty of images as images, yet push us to reflect on the devastation possible in the simple act of choosing a place to live.