Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shelby Lee Adams

Shelby Lee Adams, Carrie LeeAnn, 2003


Shelby Lee Adams, Larry in Garage, 2004


Shelby Lee Adams, Cody & Tank, 2004


Shelby Lee Adams, James, 2003


Shelby Lee Adams, Girls in Onion Patch, 2004


Shelby Lee Adams, Lloyd Dean with Family & Coal Truck, 2002


Shelby Lee Adams, Children with Blind Horse, 2008


Shelby Lee Adams, Eagle's Nest, 2004


Shelby Lee Adams, Leairon, 2005


Shelby Lee Adams, Donnie and Aunt Sally, 2004


Shelby Lee Adams, Hardburly Porch, 2004


Shelby Lee Adams, Natasha, 2003


Shelby Lee Adams, Tammy with Catfish, 2002


Shelby Lee Adams, Lloyd Deane with Grandsons at Pool Table, 2002


Shelby Lee Adams, Eric with Spike the Rooster, 2001


Shelby Lee Adams, Troy, 2003


Shelby Lee Adams, Vanessa, October, 2007


Shelby Lee Adams, Sheba Asleep, 2005


Shelby Lee Adams, Nancy with Parakeets, 2004


Shelby Lee Adams, Brice and Crow on Porch, Buck Lick, 1992




Artist Statement:

Every summer, traveling through the mountains photographing, I am somehow able to renew and relive my childhood. I regain my southern, mountain accent and approach my people with openness, fascination, and respect; and they treat me with respect. My psychic antennae become sharpened and acute. I love these people, perhaps that is it, plain and simple. I respond to the sensual beauty of a hardened face with many scars, the deeply etched lines and flickers of sweat containing bright spots of sunlight. The eyes of my subjects reveal a kindness and curiosity, and their acceptance of me is gratifying. For me, this is rejuvenation of the spirit of time past, and I am better for the experience each time it happens. These portraits are, in a way, self-portraits that represent a long autobiographical exploration of creativity, imagination, vision, repulsion and salvation. My greatest fear as a photographer is to look into the eyes of my subject and not see my own reflection.

My work has been an artist search for a deeper understanding of my heritage and myself, using photography as a medium and the Appalachian people as collaborators with their own desires to communicate. I hope, too, that viewers, will see in these photographs something of the abiding strength and resourcefulness and dignity of the mountain people.

56 comments:

Clorivak said...

Amazing!!! I adore this style of photography. Its so intense. It speaks to me. I also adore sinister looking kids,especially with animals.
Great find Droll!! Loooves Eeeeet.

It also reminds me of Gummo...Have you seen it?? You would more than likely love it if you enjoy this.
Ciao...:)

Diane said...

The artist's statement was very helpful in providing some insight into the photographs' subjects. At first I (no doubt, shallowly) thought, "Wow, the mystique of hillbillies." And then I read the statement and I see that there's so much more to it.

I absolutely love these photographs. They're extremely intense and interesting; thanks for sharing, as always!!

P.S. Haha, it made me laugh when you spoke so outwardly against Home Alone! If you don't mind my asking, what in particular don't you like about the movie?

diane said...

I see a bit of some of the people in my coal mining community in these photos. We are also located just beneath the Appalachian trail. I am also reminded of cousins in New Hampshire and Ohio, so I will not be so proud as to say I don't see something of myself here or don't feel connected somehow. Even though I'm from the Philadelphia area, my family's roots look an awful lot like some of these photos. When my cousins would come to visit, they always thought we were rich. I guess it's a matter of perspective.

Char said...

I have an overwhelming sense of sadness when I see shots like this - shots that we have whole sections of the country as resourceful as we are that live in such poverty.

Bunny, THE PARIS HOUSE said...

This is a part of the country that I don't think of nearly as often as I should..but I am now.

Pretty Little World said...

These photographs have particularly amazing texture -- the slight grain of the black and white is stunning. The photographs of the children are astonishing -- the first with the girl and her cat is wonderful!

bananas. said...

i can't help but feel like i'm viewing scenes from the town in texas chain massacre. eeh. but that is awesome ass photography and her way of seeing beauty in these hardened, rough faces and scars is inspiring.

Elizabeth Marie said...

At first I was slightly sad as I looked at these, but reading the artists statement helped me to understand them more...

"For me, this rejuvenation of the spirit of time past..."

Thanks for introducing me to this! For once I have nothing snarky to say hahaha..hmm...

apriliniowa said...

I was thinking of "Mountain People" before I even read the excerpt below. The photographs tell quite a bit. Maybe even too much. Hard living is even on the faces of the children and that's just sad. I almost feel like these photographs are exploitive in their honesty though...
But as art, these are striking and wonderful. Another great find of yours!

brooke said...

hmmm...at first i love the photography...the dimension...the subjects...the feeling...then i became slightly frightened...but after reading what the artists feelings are about them i cannot help but feel the same as she does and love them again for it...

LENORENEVERMORE said...

Hauntingly so beautiful...
The forgotten side of the country!

Iva said...

"My greatest fear as a photographer is to look into the eyes of my subject and not see my own reflection"

wow.

Her work is amazing. the photos leave behind a completely different feeling without the statement. These are wonderful photos that tell a story, and make you feel. Feel, really hard and deeply, and it truly makes you think.

That is true art.

Amazing post.

diane said...

I'm back. I just wanted to let you know I linked to you in my new post. Hugs. xo

Annie said...

the photos are amazing!
at one point i said creepy but the pictures are so intriguing and real!
great post.

Fresh said...

These pictures reminded me of where I live, and some of the people that I see everyday. The untempered grittiness of her work is lovely. It's like documentary photography that transcends itself. Or something like that...

Gabbi said...

Astonishing work, I love her photographs. There's something so serene to them. I also really liked her statement, so important to see yourself in what surrounds us... not just what's perceived as 'pretty' and 'new'.

Thanks so much for sharing!

Carlotta said...

very beautiful but I'm scared..if you think that the most horror movie that I've seen is Finding Nemo!! (yes it's a scary movie for me!)

TERI REES WANG said...

These people are Real..?!!!

Aunt Sally and James share the same eyes. So why is the horse blind?

Dream Sequins said...

I enjoy the fact that the camera is non-judgmental and seems to embrace these people for who they are. No hipper than thou hipster with a camera here.

Milly said...

creepy but intense!

Phoenix said...

I must be a jerk...as I scrolled through each photo I thought, "serial killer, serial killer, serial killer, GAH DEER HEADS, serial killer, serial killer in training..."

Yep. Jerk. Me.

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

We just moved to this location from NC...living in the mountains. A couple of girlfriends & I would take our horses and ride back in the untraveled parts and as I started to look at these pics, I was thinking that they looked so much like many of the scenes we would come upon. After reading the artist statement, it all made sense. They may be called redneck, but most of the people we ran into were the sweetest ever. VEry unique pics!

anotherfishinthesea said...

intense was definitely the word that crossed my mind. i felt a lot of sorrow in looking at these photos as well. really amazing though.

Brown Girl said...

Interestingly amazing. That's all I can say really.

anna said...

I LOVE all the freckled girls! Great photography!

The Haute-Shopper said...

Wow, these are amazing. Some of them are haunting i a way (I think it's the black and white that helps). All of these are so honest in what they portray. Thanks for sharing!

...love Maegan said...

...dignity of the mountain people"


um ...

Chessa! said...

these are beautiful and so moving...
It's a very deep look into a unique culture and lifestyle but somehow it is relatable through the gazes of the people...

Kristin said...

Ok, not to be a jerk but my mind went to ways. 1. Such sorrow in most of those photos. 2. The Hills Have Eyes. I'm an arse.

Cheryl said...

Yay, I can see these! Yesterday's A. L. post I couldn't see at all for some reason.

What a great collection of images! A window into another way of living. Every one of these faces is so expressive and fascinating. A world away and far more interesting than any magazine cover model. Her artist's statement is also really good. I love seeing how other artists approach their work.

Kellie said...

Ok, that 1st pic I was going to say the kid creeps me out for some reason, but then I kept looking on and they ALL creep me out. I am picturing "The Hills Have Eyes" for some reason. Am I the only one? :)

(No, wait I just scrolled up a bit and saw Kristin's comment so I'm not the only one!!!!)

Brooke said...

Amazing photographs, but they also make me feel slightly uneasy, even though the artist's statement is uplifting. Their hardships are clearly written across their faces. Aspects of the photos very closely resemble life over here, in Lithuania.

Gabby said...

Wowza...it's such a different world.

JUNKER JANE said...

Great post!!

Hanako66 said...

These are amazing DG! They are so powerful and haunting. I always look forward to your art posts...hell, I look forward to all of your posts:)

Sam said...

When I first looked at these photos I felt a little uneasy, but after reading the artsit's statement I understood that they were real folk and not some gothic confection. Cool stuff yet again you fabbo blogger you!!

Diana said...

These are parts of America I have yet to visit. Orange County should have this artist in their high snobbery museums to show!

Anthony said...

Wow...

These are stunning B/W photos! It would be interesting to see the same shots in color. I bet they would elicit a completely different feeling.

Now, for some shallow observations:

#1. Kitty looks sweet, girl does NOT!

#2. Eight is (MORE than) enough!

#5. Is it just me, or do those "girls" look like boys?

#10. Donnie ain't no Osmond, and Aunt Sally looks like one of those shrunken apple-head dolls.

#12. Natasha... will blow you for a pack of cigarettes, behind the shed.

#15. Too easy.

#16. Whoa, Troy's head looks like a watermelon. If watermelons had faces. And ears.

#18. That's a good little Sheba, just keep dreaming about living in a warm New York penthouse and eating all the gourmet dog food you could ever want... 'Cuz that's NEVER gonna happen!

See, I told you they were shallow.

down and out chic said...

anyone who has lived or work with mountain "folk" has to recognize that this artist has a perspective and honesty that is dead on. these raw portraits are very telling and quite beautiful

alissa said...

donnie and aunt sally know how to have a good time. you know that.

there was an article in vogue this month about an artist you featured. im a pile of crap and too lazy to get the magazine and get her name. but shes in there - she dresses up as characters and photographs herself. you know the one.

Ela said...

Wow. There's something so telling about a hardened face.

p.s. NO, I had no idea about his show!!! Canada has no VH1 or HBO - LOL. I will find a way to watch it for sure! Though I hear he's a jerk so I don't know...still eye candy though ;)

Diane said...

i completely love this post! just amazing photography. the childrens' faces -- really intense.

Midtown Girl said...

Wow - some serious americana pics!

p.s. Aunt Sally follows me on Twitter. I'll tell her u said 'Wassup'!

XOXO MG

Lily G. said...

Wow, these are definitely some intense all-American pictures.

Pen Pen said...

...WHO told him he could publish pics of my immediate family members?! I smell a lawsiut!! :)

Really tho-I saw a documentary on Shelby and on 'Fuse' Channel and it was SO amazing!!
AND- OMG, DG! You HAVE to look at the video I linked to at the bottom of my current post and tell me if it makes you want to grab the next person and makeout with them like it does me! I have to know if I'm the only one...or if the 'Pattinson Porn' can work on anybody!!! :)

Jack Daniel said...

These pics are just adorable!
I've just bought a few old filmcamera's so expect a lot more pictures like the ones you've posted......well, I mean I hope I can make beautiful pics like these ones. :)

Sandra said...

Really great photos! Kind of spooky and so interesting...

box-of-style

JennyMac said...

Such intense photos...great emotional representation in each one. Those kids looked like they have already lived beyond their years.

K @ Blog Goggles said...

Um, eek. Kind of reminds me of the small town I grew up in.

The818 said...

There's something sort of timeless about these photos...that's interesting to me.

Felicia|DaLipstickBandit said...

creeeeeeeepy....i think i'm the only one that said that but it reminds me of orphan or children of the corn or something....

thereddeer said...

Very honest photography. Lots of character - very cool.

The Cottage Cheese said...

The Shelby Lee Adams photographs are amazing, if a bit unsettling. Rural Appalachia really is a throwback to another time. My city is in the Appalachian foothills, and is very metropolitan. For a short time I lived 90 miles north of here, in Knoxville, and there is a huge rural Appalachian presence evident there. It's like the Smoky Mountain residents moved just as far east as Knoxville when the National Park Service gave them the boot, and they stayed. Great post!

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