Southern Memories

Southern Memories : Part One is not only about the South or memory, for me it is also dedicated to the artists who participate in making photographs that allow us to stop; to see, and in seeing reflect about our world inside and out. This year SlowExposures will be doing their first photo reviews. I am often asked about the benefits of reviews and juried shows. I believe they are necessary for an artist to be seen because most photographic artists do not have easy access to their audience. A lot of them work alone without the benefit of galleries or magazines to show and promote their work. Today there are websites and self publication to help, but where does an artist go for dialog, to be where people are responding.
Many artists, once they leave school, do not have a community of support. Some of these artists travel around the country to be a part of the floating, photographic, artist community which SlowExposures is becoming a part of. Like most creative things we apply value to, we often forget the dedicated person who strives to produce an artwork and continuously create with little financial rewards or great public acclaim. I always think of artists in a religious sense, or like the wise virgins working for that moment that is never guaranteed — but you have to be ready.

More than 60 percent of the artists of Southern Memories were discovered at photo reviews held since 2000. Their images were strong enough for me to remember and to keep in contact with the artist. Some of the photographers have entered juried shows including SlowExposure, others I met while at events like this one. But it is the quality and the power of the image that they created that makes for their being included in this exhibition. Southern Memories started as an organic process and shifted enough to make me rethink some of my childhood memories. I always thought that my childhood was bright and idyllic but the 45 photographs in this exhibition have me wondering what was real and what was glamor; questioning why I only saw light and not the shadows and secrets. The artists who come from as far away as Shanghai and England and as close as Georgia, a few towns away, opened my eyes and heart.

Southern Memories : Part One started out as a lark an idea I had about the power of photography to evoke and assist memory. I often am amazed by people who can remember all the details of their life — date, time, and temperature. I, on the other hand, feel emotion and broad strokes. My first remembered Christmas contains a few details like peppermint candy, oranges and nuts in a shoe box (stocking), and a haze of every gift a boy could want in 1952 being under a tree. I remember my trip downtown — a downtown that was festooned for the holidays; store windows with moving toys, something new and magical. But over it all I remember being very happy while everything around me was sad, bleak, gray. The light was near perfect; cold, crisp, and winter blue but Birmingham Alabama was not Thornton Wilder’s small town. Still I grew up to love Christmas.

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