The other day I was trolling around this site when I discovered these beautiful photographs by Eugene Richards. Richards' series -- The Blue Room -- features images of abandoned houses in rural America. Peaceful, quiet, lonely, and forlorn, these photographs are a reminder that unexpected beauty can be found anywhere, even in the midst of neglect and decay.
Eugene Richards, photographer, writer, filmmaker, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. After graduating from Northeastern University with a degree in English, he studied photography with Minor White, then joined VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America, which assigned him as a health advocate to eastern Arkansas. He helped found a social service organization and a community newspaper, Many Voices, which reported on black political action and the Ku Klux Klan. Photographs he made during those years were published in his first monograph, Few Comforts or Surprises: The Arkansas Delta.
Upon returning to Dorchester, Richards began to document the changing, racially diverse neighborhood where he was born. His second monograph, Dorchester Days, was published in 1978, the same year he was invited to join Magnum Photos, where he remained for seventeen years.
Richards' photography and writing has appeared in major magazines worldwide -- including LIFE, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, The New Yorker, Mother Jones, National Geographic, and The Nation -- but he is best known for his books. He has published fifteen of them. Exploding into Life, which chronicles his first wife Dorothea Lynch's struggle with breast cancer. Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue, is an extensive reportorial on the effects of hardcore druge usage.
Subsequent books include The Fat Baby, an anthology of fifteen photographic essays; A Procession of Them (William and Bettye Nowlin Series in Art, History, and Culture), a documentation of the plight of the world's mentally disabled; and The Blue Room, Richards' study of abandoned houses in rural America. War is Personal, an assessment in words and pictures of the human consequences of the Iraq war.
Among numerous honors, Richards has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, three National Endowment for the Arts grants, the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award. Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue and Dorchester Dayswere chosen for the inclusion in the exhibition and catalog, The Open Book, which cites the finest photographic books from 1878 to the present. But, the Day Came a film written and directed by Richards, was named Best Short Film at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
Eugene Richards' photographs have been exhibited in more than forty solo shows in the United States and abroad, including the International Center of Photography in New York, VISA pour l'lmage in Perpignan, and Les Rencontres d'Arles Photographie.