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Book Review Stokely Carmichael and Black Power Photographs by Gordon Parks Reviewed by Brian Arnold "Looking at Parks’ photographs I see Carmichael with much greater clarity than I was able to as a high school student. Parks is clearly doing more than just recording the movement, he is participating..."

Stokely Carmichael and Black Power By Curran Hatleberg.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=DU390
Stokely Carmichael and Black Power
Photographs by Gordon Parks

Steidl/The Gordon Parks Foundation/Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA, 2022. 176 pp.

When Stokely Carmichael moved forward to speak, the crowd greeted him with a huge roar. He acknowledged his reception with a raised arm and clenched fist. Realizing that he was in his element, with his people, Stokely let it all hang out... “The only way we gonna stop them white men from whuppin’ us is to take over. We been saying freedom for six years and we ain’t got nothin’. What we gonna start saying now is Black Power!” The crowd was right with him... “BLACK POWER!” they roared in unison.” 

— Cleveland Sellers

These various threads – the rejection of integration, Black unity for social and political advancement, the breaking of psychological barriers to self-love, and self-defense as part of the movement toward freedom – united in Black Power. 
— Lisa Volpe

In my junior year American History class, while we were studying the Civil Rights Movement, Mr. McCracken (by any measure an amazing human, he taught American History at my high school in Denver during the 1980s, at a school situated in a neighborhood crippled by a violent war between the Crips and the Bloods) brought Kuwame Ture to us to talk about his work as a Civil Rights leader. Kuwame Ture is best known by his birth name, Stokely Carmichael, the former being a name he adopted when joining the Nation of Islam. Perhaps not as well-known as Martin Luther King, Malcom X, or Marcus Garvey, Carmichael was nevertheless a dynamic and powerful force during the Black Power movement of the 1960s. He was charismatic, passionate and articulate, and used his resources to envision a new society without brutal oppression of Black and Brown people. Carmichael began his work as a Civil Rights advocate in the early 1960s when he became a member of the Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, one of the groups that organized the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965). He worked tirelessly to register Black Americans to vote, advocated for the Black Power Movement, and was even appointed Honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party. Carmichael also helped organize some of the earliest protests against the Vietnam War. It probably goes without saying that he was also targeted by the American government as an agitator. Under the Hoover administration he was victim of a misinformation campaign in which the FBI convinced some members of the Black Panther Party that Carmichael was actually a secret agent working for the CIA. Carmichael eventually split from the Panthers after his first travels to Africa in 1969 which ultimately launched an interest in Africa and Pan-African identity that would fuel the rest of his career. He spent the next 30 years working with the All-African People's Revolutionary Party (A-APRP), a political action group advocating for a unified African continent.


1978, Manual High School, Jarrell McCracken, Talks About Experiences In India, where he spent 10 weeks in a summer seminar. Credit: Denver Post 

I think it is incredible that Mr. McCracken brought Stokely Carmichael to work with our class — just imagine what Tucker Carlson would say. Even more incredibly, Mr. McCracken and Carmichael had been friends for years, after first working together as colleagues organizing during the Civil Rights Movement. Mr. McCracken spent weeks prepping us for Carmichael’s visit, and not only encouraged us to embrace the political and social history he represented, but also gave us prompts to challenge his ethics (Carmichael once famously said that the only place for women in the Civil Rights Movement was prone).


I had all this in mind when I first opened the new book produced by the Gordon Parks Foundation and Steidl (part of an ongoing series from the two organizations), Stokely Carmichael and Black Power, a collection of photographs by Gordon Parks recording the charismatic leader in his youthful prime. In the photographs, Parks appears as an embedded journalist following Carmichael throughout his days of work; he was on assignment for Life magazine and traveled with Carmichael from the fall of 1966 through the spring of 1967. Richly printed, the book also includes reproductions of pamphlets, posters and manifestos printed by Carmichael’s office. The book was printed in conjunction with an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and includes contributions by Gary Tinterow (Director at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), Lisa Volpe (Associate Curator of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), Cedric Johnson (Associate Professor of Black Studies and Political Science at the University of Illinois, Chicago), and Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr. (Executive Director of the Gordon Parks Foundation).

Looking at Parks’ photographs I see Carmichael with much greater clarity than I was able to as a high school student. Parks is clearly doing more than just recording the movement, he is participating. Thus his pictures are full of the same charisma, passion and poetry as the leader he photographed brought to Black communities across the States. Collectively, the photographs offer an insightful portrayal of Carmichael, as we see him lecturing and teaching, operating a printing press, preparing for television interviews, leading community discussions in family homes, shooting pool, laughing and loving, being hustled across the street by a security detail, meeting children and trying to galvanize and unify a new generation of Black people. These photographs reveal the young leader easily connecting with people and communities, and capture him as a multidimensional, thoughtful, engaging and articulate man. Carmichael has a clear aptitude for politics and community organization and appears clean-cut (often in a suit and tie), well-educated and tirelessly working for his cause. It’s hard to believe that the Hoover administration pursued the same man. Parks’ pictures feel effortless, his representations of Carmichael show the photographer’s own commitments, developed with tremendous empathy, admiration and a keen eye for interesting and unexpected camera compositions.


The accompanying essays provide a thorough background and context for understanding the photographs and help to realize this book as an essential historical record. Lisa Volpe’s essay, “Black Power and Acts of Love,” looks at Parks’ relationship to other prominent Black leaders and helps the reader understand why he felt drawn to Carmichael. In earlier portrayals the photographer made of Malcolm X for Life magazine, he tried to represent the charismatic but controversial figure as much more humane and dignified than the threatening firebrand portrayed by white dominated media. Indeed, Volpe tells us that after Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, Parks wanted to find a new black leader to promote with his photographs. After some difficulties in relating to Muhammad Ali, Parks found that figure in Stokely Carmichael. When they first met, Parks was 53 years old and Carmichael only 24, but despite generational differences, the two felt a tight bound in their experiences as Black men fighting for a new society and future, unified in the trauma they faced on a daily basis.

Repeatedly, the authors tell us that Carmichael is credited for coining the coalition Black Power. Before Mr. McCracken’s class, I was taught there were two wings to the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King represented a movement like Gandhi, peace and non-violence in any circumstance, while Malcolm X promoted Black Power. And we were taught Black Power was a violent revolutionary movement that wanted to take down white dominance with guns. Stokely Carmichael and Black Power writes the history of the Black Power politic movement quite differently. Black Power was primarily a get-out-the-vote movement, but also believed turning the other cheek was the wrong choice and that Black people should own their constitutionally defined rights for self-protection. Not quite the same history, is it?


Looking back to Mr. McCracken’s class, I do remember Carmichael as a natural storyteller — the whole class was riveted as he paced around the cafeteria with a microphone and talked about his experiences during the 1960s. Mr. McCracken must be dead now, but nevertheless I want to offer him my deepest gratitude for providing all his students with this kind of opportunity. Truthfully, going to school each day during the gang war often felt terrifying — the cops were constantly there, and I even witnessed a shooting on the front steps — but Mr. McCracken provided us with a remarkable opportunity to see the gang violence plaguing Denver in an entirely new light, as part of a deep history of repression and violence perpetrated against Black Americans. I was a shy teenager, but mustered the courage to ask Carmichael a question, “What advice can you offer to help us solve the problems still dividing our communities today?”

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Brian Arnold
is a photographer, writer, and translator based in Ithaca, NY. He has taught and exhibited his work around the world and published books with Oxford University Press, Cornell University, and Afterhours Books. Brian is a two-time MacDowell Fellow and in 2014 received a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation/American Institute for Indonesian Studies.
  photo-eye Gallery   2022 Put a Bow in it!    PHOTO-EYE GALLERY       photo-eye Gallery’s annual holiday gift guide featuring incredible, works from our represented artists!

 

Steve Fitch, Pueblo, Colorado; June 1980
Michael Kenna, Railway Lines in Snow, Quarto Santa Chiara, Palena, Abruzzo, Italy
Maggie Taylor, The Companions


This fall, I was granted the opportunity to peruse our flat files to gather a collection of images for our annual "Put a Bow on it!" series, and I can confidently say that photo-eye Gallery has many, unique, ready-to-wrap gifts—perfect for the collector, photographer, or art lover in your life! 

We are ever so grateful for our devoted clients and talented artists who inspire us every day, and the following works in this post are a tiny fraction of what we have hidden in our flat files for under $3,200. I have ordered these lovely prints from low to high, and they range from one-of-a-kind and/or not available on our website, by artists such as Cig Harvey, Pentti Sammallahti, Mark Klett, Chaco Terada, Christopher Colville, and Julie Blackmon.   

If you are unable to visit the gallery, please know that we are here to help! We are happy to search for a special request in person or virtually, and also offer domestic and international shipping for those that can't make it into our gallery here in Santa Fe, NM.


Once again, our thanks for all your interest, support, and enthusiasm this year. 
Enjoy the collection!


Steve Fitch, Pueblo, Colorado; June 1980, Archival Pigment Print, 12x12", $450


Tom Chambers, Fetch, Archival Pigment Print, 23x8.5", $750


David H. Gibson, Sunstreams Reds Canyon, Silver Gelatin Print, 8.94x23.3", $800


Reuben Wu, XT2011, Archival Pigment Print, $950


Pentti Sammallahti, Kemio, Finland, Silver Gelatin Print, 8x7", $1,300


Chaco Terada, Little Fox, Sumi Ink & Pigment on Silk, 10x7.5", $1,800


Mark Klett, 5 Minutes at Glacier Point, Silver Gelatin Print, 7.375x9", $2,000


Cig Harvey, Wisteria, Camden, Maine, Archival Pigment Print, 16x20" $3,000


Michael Kenna, Railway Lines in Snow, Quarto Santa Chiara, Palena, Abruzzo, Italy, Toned Silver Gelatin Print, 8x8" $3,000


Julie Blackmon, Night Windows, Archival Pigment Print, 22x29", $3,100


Maggie Taylor, The Companions, Archival Pigment Print, 15x15", $3,200


Print costs are current up to the time of posting and are subject to change.


If you are in Santa Fe, please stop by during gallery hours or schedule a visit HERE.

For more information, and to reserve one of these unique works, please contact photo-eye Gallery's
Anne Kelly       or       Jovi Esquivel
Gallery Director            Gallery Associate

You may also call us at (505) 988– 5152 x202


1300 Rufina Circle, Unit A3, Sant Fe, NM 87507
Tuesday– Saturday, from 10am– 5:30pm

Our Holiday hours:

10am– 4pm: Christmas Eve & New Year's Eve
Closed: Thanksgiving day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day





Books 2022 Favorite Photobooks In years past we've asked hundreds of people immersed in the photobook world to make their selections for their favorite book of the year. This year, we've decided to focus our attention internally and let our staff, who are all passionate about photobooks, act as a group and single out those books which we feel are the best contributions to this incredible art form.

In years past we've asked hundreds of people immersed in the photobook world to make their selections for their favorite book of the year. This year, we've decided to focus our attention internally and let our staff, who are all passionate about photobooks, act as a group and single out those books which we feel are the best contributions to this incredible art form.

Each year we see an ever-increasing number of photobooks, from self-published, small press and mainstream publishers, to our diverse, niche publishers throughout the world. From these, we select what we feel are the most interesting titles to market to you, our photobook lovers, through our daily and weekly newsletters, our website and social media, and in our fabulous Santa Fe bookstore.

As a result, photo-eye, now in our 44th year, is in a unique position to select books that we feel rise to the top and merit your attention and consideration.

We hope you enjoy our selections.



 

Book Review Who is Changed and Who is Dead Photographs by Ahndraya Parlato Reviewed by Meggan Gould "Photographic series about hands were added to my list of (playfully) banned subjects a number of years ago, where they would join cats and fire hydrants as too cliché-prone, and thus best avoided..."

Who is Changed and Who is DeadBy Ahndraya Parlato.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZJ665
Who is Changed and Who is Dead
Photographs by Ahndraya Parlato

Mack, London, UK, 2021. 128 pp., 6¾x9".

Sometimes it is hard to extricate pain from pleasure, as I wrote some months ago in a review of Wei Weng’s Eat a Chili. We balance the allure of a gleaming hook with the subsequent pain of a bite. Some books punch me with one unforgettable image, others pace their strikes. Ahndraya Parlato's new book slowly caresses, and gently twists its knife, through text and image alike. I find that I cannot turn away, or do not want to.

Who is Changed and Who is Dead is a book of lucid photographs, interspersed with evocative writing. It is also a book of lucid writing, interspersed with evocative photographs. The pacing, of both, is unfaltering. Parlato’s autobiographical writing, succinct and matter of fact, describes a messy and utterly devastating personal narrative. Spoiler alert: there is significant trauma, a suicide, and a murder. She maintains a tone, with text and photographs alike, that is contemplative while impassive, conversational and occasionally playful.

Part I is written to Parlato’s two daughters. She describes the singular paranoia of parenting: Can I protect my children? From abduction by strangers, imaginary wolves skulking in our bathrooms, school lockdown drills or the overt sexualization of their young gendered bodies. Or, Can I protect myself, as a parent? From the horror of not being able to shield them from any of this.


Certain snippets pierce me, as the knife embeds, twists. She compares parents to amateur ceramic vessels — clunky, poorly formed and painted, we try our best to simply hold water. Photographs of a material collection of such vessels (mugs, ewers, some still with thrift store price tag affixed) form one of multiple intertwined visual motifs. Two vases and a pitcher teeter on her daughter’s back, a red sweep in the background cradling all.

The photographs are as careful and succinct as the text. Rich and velvety, they carry a warmth that the text often belies. Fittingly, there is a lot of red. Red of violence, red of warmth, red of maternal bloodshed — the latter in implication, at least — as both routine and not. Sheets as backdrops of play, sheets as shrouds. Cut flowers, days past when they should have met the compost pile, echo our mortality (as well as my own neglected table).


Color photograms of the cremated remains of Parlato’s mother are interspersed throughout the book. Printed on a glossy, seductive paper, they interrupt the matte surface of the other pages. Part II is written to her mother, posthumously, and the reader shifts from inhabiting the space of two daughters to that of a parent figure. We read of a long history of mental illness, and the author’s navigation of caretaking, straddling a line between love and annoyance. She speculates on how much we manage to infuriate our mothers, and how exasperating we find our own mothers, in turn.

Who is changed, and who is dead? Parlato’s vivid photographs remind us that we live our own metamorphoses and mortalities through a mundane intermingling of angst and elation, tautness and slackness, growth and stagnation. Mirroring imperfectly formed ceramic vessels, we simply try to hold water, to tread water. Like Parlato, running is my own outlet through it all: I run to navigate motherhood, I run to navigate daughterhood. Running and mothering, running and daughtering. What we run from, and what we run toward, are at the core of this dazzling book.

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Meggan Gould is an artist living and working outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of New Mexico. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,, the SALT Institute for Documentary Studies, and Speos (Paris Photographic Institute), where she finally began her studies in photography. She received an MFA in photography from the University of Massachusetts — Dartmouth. She recently wrote a book, Sorry, No Pictures, about her own relationship to photography.
Book Review Something Else, Something Other Florida Strawberries
Photographs by Anthony Blasko
Reviewed by Odette England "Start with fun facts about strawberries. The fear of strawberries is fragariaphobia. Strawberries are members of the rose family. They come in many colors other than red. They have eight copies of seven chromosomes. They don’t continue to ripen after picking. And Belgium has a museum dedicated to them..."

Florida Strawberries. By Anthony Blasko.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZK158
Florida Strawberries
Photographs by Anthony Blasko

STANLEY/BARKER, London, UK 2022. 120 pp., 11¾x9".

Start with fun facts about strawberries. The fear of strawberries is fragariaphobia. Strawberries are members of the rose family. They come in many colors other than red. They have eight copies of seven chromosomes. They don’t continue to ripen after picking. And Belgium has a museum dedicated to them.

Fun’s over. Let’s talk understated elegance in photobooks.
Those fun facts are harder to find.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen too many photobooks masquerading as something else, something other. Trying to be clever with unnecessary design. Unnecessariness, period. This book — Florida Strawberries by Anthony Blasko, published by Stanley Barker — is not that book. This book takes its cue from the humble strawberry. It is fresh and ripe and deliciously simple. The only hints of design whimsy appear outside the book, like the ‘seeds’ of the strawberry itself (called achenes, inside which is the actual strawberry seed). The front and back covers feature hand-painted fruits by Shaun Morris. And the book comes wrapped in disposable, takeout-style wax paper packaging that I can’t bear to recycle, it’s too darn cute.

Unobtrusive white borders frame most of the full-color images. When I say color, I don’t mean regular everyday color. Nor Eggleston, Ho, Greenberg, Cousins, Aldridge or even Kodachrome color. Blasko favors the color of a warm squishy hug. Freckled face-plant into a melty cream cake color, soaked in one-too-many strawberry slushies color, sugar-rush sunset fairy floss color. The color Sherwin Williams might call “All The Fun of The Fair.” Even the endpapers look like Pantone 1788C Strawberry.


The complexity of this book is strewn in the pictures, which Blasko has made at the annual Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida since 2013. Except for a six-year hiatus during and after World War II, the event has run since 1930. For eleven days, people from all over gather for attractions, parades, entertainment and of course enjoying strawberries in ways you never thought appealing or possible. It is this intoxicating combination of people, place and time Blasko focuses on.

All the photographs are made in strawberry-stained late afternoon light. They are heavy on the ROY. Red shirts, orange drinks, wedding bands, goldfish. There are lots of lotsas. Lotsa red and strawberry-colored hair. Lotsa kids. Lotsa exposed skin. Lotsa indirect portraits, of people not knowing they were being looked at. People photographed from the side or from behind. People watching people. I imagine Blasko bumper-car-bumping his way through the crowd looking for the ding-ding-ding pictures. Lusting the light.

I grew up attending two local county fairs, the sounds and smells of which persist. I mention this because despite the visceral joy and excitement, what I remember most are the unsmiling faces. Yes, there was screaming and sirens, clapping and balloons popping, the relentless heckling of carnival workers. But there was also a sense of sadness, distraction and longing. Fairs have a way of transforming reality into something else, something other. Something mysterious but also menacing and risky, all the while giving off vibes of simpler, happier, safer times. It is this paradox that photography too is good at, and that Blasko elicits with his camera. The squinting, watching, waiting, chomping, wriggling, head-tilting and draping. Fairgoers devouring corn dogs with ketchup and show rides on repeat but without the overt rapture. Going to see and going to be seen.


For all the action and bewilderment these photographs imply, they unfold in slow motion. The light hypnotizes. The shadows lull. There is an undertow of disconnection. It is as if Blasko wants to lure us to the gates, fill us up until we’re tired or sick or our ears and feet hurt, and then, only as we’re walking to our cars, look over our shoulders and get a bout of the warm fuzzies from seeing the Ferris wheel still turning. Knowing that the fair is still fair. We go without questions, we leave without answers. We socialize and learn and enjoy. And, if we’re lucky, get reminded that less is more, and to stop and smell the roses. Or in this case strawberries.

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Odette England 
is a photographer and writer based in Providence, Rhode Island and New York. Her work has been shown in more than 100 museums, galleries, and exhibition spaces worldwide. She has two photobooks out this year: Dairy Character, winner of the 2021 Light Work Book Award; and Past Paper Present Marks: Responding to Rauschenberg, her collaboration with Jennifer Garza-Cuen, which received a $5,000 Rauschenberg Publication Grant.
photo-eye Gallery David H. Gibson's Luminous Landscapes PHOTO-EYE GALLERY This winter, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art will host an exhibition of photographs by represented artist David H. Gibson, check-in to see a preview!

David H. Gibson, Morning Along Cypress Creek, February 2, 2013, 7:28 AM, Wimberley, Texas, Archival Pigment Print, Edition of 25, 16x24", $900 


David H. Gibson's introduction to the photographic process occurred when he was a child, his father, an experienced printer for a commercial photographer had set up a temporary dark room in their kitchen. When Gibson saw a print develop for the first time, it was a magical experience. It is not surprising to learn that when he saw Ansel Adams' photographs in the 1965 exhibition catalog for The Family of Man, he was inspired to "learn how to make an expressive print."

This week, photo-eye Gallery is pleased to share new work by David H. Gibson, and announce that the exhibition Morning Light: The Photographs of David H. Gibson will be on view from January 14– May 21, 2023, at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, in Fort Worth, Texas. The exhibition includes photographs of his favorite sites: Cypress Creek in Wimberely, Texas, and Eagle Nest Lake, an alpine lake east of Taos, New Mexico.


Gibson's luminous landscapes demonstrate a remarkable sensitivity to light and mood. His images invite the viewer to share a reverence for place and light, just last he prints themselves reflect his devotion to the art of printmaking.  


>> Time, Light, and Land: An Interview with David H. Gibson | Blog <<



David H. Gibson, Sunrise Moments, August 31, 2021, 6:44:36 a.m., Eagle Nest Lake, New Mexico, Archival Pigment Print, Edition of 25, 11.625x40", $1,200


"Here the morning mists radically change the sense of place and create their own magic. The unpredictability of sunrise events at Eagle Nest Lake keeps drawing me back." 
— David H. Gibson

>> David H. Gibson on Photographing Eagle Nest Lake | Blog <<


David H. Gibson, Morning Along Cypress Creek, January 20, 2010, 7:50AM, Wimberly Texas, Archival Pigment Print, Edition of 25, 16x24", $900


Years of developing and refining his photographic technique have afforded David Gibson much recognition, especially for his panoramic landscapes of Texas and the Four Corners region. Gibson has also photographed extensively in Ireland, a project for which he received a grant from the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in 1995. He has exhibited widely in both group and solo exhibitions, and his work is part of several permanent public and corporate collections such as the Amon Carter Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Prints are currently available for purchase from photo-eye Gallery.
photo-eye Gallery is proud to represent David H. Gibson.



Print costs are current up to the time of posting and are subject to change.

For more information, and to reserve one of these unique, new works, please contact photo-eye 
Gallery Director Anne Kelly or Gallery Associate Jovi Esquivel.


photo-eye Gallery

1300 Rufina Circle, Unit A3, Santa Fe, NM 87507
Tuesday– Saturday. from 10am– 5:30pm

If you are in Santa Fe, please stop by during gallery hours or schedule a Virtual Visit HERE

You may also call us at (505)988- 5152 x202



Book Review O. N. Pruitt's Possum Town Text by Berkley Hudson Reviewed by Philip Heying “With O. N. Pruitt’s Possum Town: Photographing Trouble and Resilience in the American South, Berkeley Hudson has assembled something of a time machine..."

https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=IG107
O. N. Pruitt's Possum Town
Photographing Trouble and Resilience in the American South
Text by Berkley Hudson


The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, USA, 2022. 272 pp., 9x10".

With O. N. Pruitt’s Possum Town: Photographing Trouble and Resilience in the American South, Berkley Hudson has assembled something of a time machine. The images and texts cast a spell so potent that readers might be forgiven for feeling as if they had experienced 20th-century Columbus, Mississippi for themselves.

Otis Noel Pruitt spent his professional life as a studio photographer in Columbus, Mississippi, nicknamed “Possum Town” in the early 19th century by the local Choctaw and Chickasaw people. From when he first became interested in photography, as a young father in 1910, to the end of his life in the late 1960s, Pruitt amassed an archive of approximately 140,000 images. Berkley Hudson has studied this massive collection for over three decades as a scholar of media history at the Missouri School of Journalism of the University of Missouri. Hudson himself grew up in Columbus and was photographed by Pruitt for family occasions throughout his youth. This book is the fruit of that endeavor.

Pruitt was a somewhat unusual professional studio photographer because he didn’t limit his photographic practice to paid jobs. Indeed, he seemed to be generally indifferent to the finances of his business, which were managed by his wife, Lena. His photographs make it clear that the complexities and remarkable dynamism of life in and around Columbus inspired his passion. He was a highly capable craftsman, and when the situation called for it, he could find his way to formal innovations in the way he constructed his images. But what drove his work was not so much an interest in formal photography, but rather his profound curiosity and concern for the life going on around him. As fate would have it, the life he documented was emblematic of the fundamental nature of the wider history and culture of the United States. This book stands as an important, if not essential, contribution to the record of the fraught history of race relations in this country.


Pruitt photographed all the family gatherings, weddings, christenings, funerals, civic events, celebrities, catastrophes and circuses one would expect of a hired photographer of his time. But he also photographed a nondescript crossroad in Artesia (page 25), a man seated in his personal automobile (page 100), a young woman seated in her modest garden (page 105) and a simple kitchen (page 55), all with clarity and a potent, if understated, compositional tension. One particularly poignant photograph depicts an infant boy, impeccably dressed and groomed, seated with his hands gingerly placed on his lap, his back straight, eyes forward, within a sprawling view of a luxurious room filled with an assortment of toys and wrapped gifts (page 81). The boy looks like both a little king and a prisoner of massive expectations. This picture is preceded by another wide view a few pages earlier. This one shows an old wooden house, its siding warped by the sun, surrounded by somewhat unruly hedges. There is a young Black woman wearing a neat light-colored dress seated on the porch swing and looking directly into the camera with an unguarded expression on her face (page 54). She looks as though she welcomed the opportunity to be photographed. Hudson’s curation of the images, ranging from large public gatherings to the quiet corners of life, offer a sense of both the cultural fabric of the time and the subtleties of Pruitt’s curiosity.

Pruitt had the remarkable privilege of a white man living in the Jim Crow South to navigate through his community, and Hudson sensitively addresses the unjust way in which that privilege was guarded by white culture during Pruitt’s life. It’s perhaps impossible to deduce from the pictures if Pruitt ever questioned his status. Pruitt did, however, make many photographs of African Americans in which they obviously shared in the creation of the photographs. These images are interspersed throughout the book.


Pruitt did stare directly into the barbaric evil of lynching. His picture of the hanged bodies of Bert Moore and Dooley Morton is horrifying and painful to look at. It serves as irrefutable evidence of terrorism by white people against African Americans. Likewise the photograph of the Ku Klux Klan marching at night in front of Pruitt’s studio in 1922, and his picture of the execution by hanging of a young man named James Keaton in 1934. Whatever his feelings at the time, Pruitt deployed his superb craft to create damning evidence of injustice in undeniable detail. The grim specter of racial injustice is ever present throughout the book.

Certainly, the quality of the book will not be an obstacle to sensitive reading and contemplation of this important and intense work. The photographs are very well reproduced. The paper they’re printed on is of high quality, as is the binding. The design and layout are well executed, if unspectacular. Most of all, Hudson’s curation and sequencing of the work, alongside his well-crafted, informative, judicious, sensitive and often entertaining texts, allow for an exceptionally potent immersion into Pruitt’s world.


One of the most pernicious aspects of racism as it currently persists in the United States is the frequency with which it is dismissively relegated to the past; “That was a hundred years ago!” the racist will declare. There’s a risk that books like this one will only serve such arguments. Berkley Hudson has somewhat mitigated that risk by assembling a sufficient quantity of pictures to describe the sprawling context in which racial violence occurs, a context that undeniably spreads forward and out to this day. The degree to which such contextual conditions are acknowledged will be the responsibility of viewers. Hudson has provided the evidence to be found in Pruitt’s work and discussed the complexities of interpretation with some rigor.

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Photographer Philip Heying, born in 1959 in Kansas City, Missouri, learned the basics of photography in middle school. In 1983 he earned a BFA in painting from the University of Kansas.

During college, Philip was introduced to William S. Burroughs and met Albert Hoffman, Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin and Timothy Leary.

In 1985 Philip crossed the Atlantic on a coal freighter to live in Paris. The experience of learning a new language and culture had a profound effect on his photography.

He returned to the United States to live in Brooklyn from 1997-2008. He worked for and became friends with Irving Penn and Joel Meyerowitz, among others, and did his own freelance editorial and advertising photography jobs.

In 2008, Philip returned to Kansas. He became a professor of photography at Johnson County Community College. He taught three curricula and managed the photo facility. He completed nine photographic book projects and had prints acquired by the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and Spencer Museum of Art.

In 2019, after his father died, he moved to Matfield Green, Kansas. He is currently working on a project, titled “A Survey of Elemental Gratitude” which will be completed in four to six years.

Correction: In a previous version of this post, Otis Noel Pruitt's middle name was incorrectly written as Neal.