Appalachian Lives by Shelby Lee Adams

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Synopsis

<!--<p class="category">Photography -- Appalachian Studies-->

This collection of eighty photographs focuses on present-day Appalachia, a region that "progress" has placed under siege.

This once poverty-stricken, mountain backwater has been invaded by four-lane interstates, cable television, Wal-Mart, and mobile homes. The people have largely abandoned log cabins and country stores and now shun overalls in favor of tee shirts that blaze advertising logos.

Over a period of twenty-five years Adams has traveled back to his home state of Kentucky with his cameras to document the lives of people there and to enrich and challenge outside perceptions of Appalachia.

His previous books--Appalachian Portraits (1993) and Appalachian Legacy (1998), both published by University Press of Mississippi--established the grace, intelligence, and wit with which Adams depicts life, as well as the candor and straightforward honesty he evokes from his trusting subjects.

Adams photographed many of these faces several times during his career. Appalachian Lives depicts how time and the outside world have affected the people dear to him. The boys of Appalachian Portraits now have become the young men of Appalachian Lives. Old homesteads have changed hands. The elderly in earlier photographs have died, yet their features glow in the faces of descendants.

In her introduction Vicki Goldberg says, "Adams looks at a difficult subject with an artist's eye. At their best, the complicated and ambiguous pictures in this book are an uncommon blend of humanity, reportage, and art, an Appalachia most of us thought we knew seen through eyes that tell us that maybe we didn't know it so well after all."

Just as his photographs portray the richness and complexity of Appalachians, Adams's accompanying text explains how he attains the level of trust that allows him to continue photographing these people. He tells why the region continues to fascinate him. His reflections give context to the images and a sense of the lives lived outside of the photographic frame. His honesty about his interaction with his subjects, their sometimes wary reactions to him, and his personal history in the region infuse the photographs with an intimacy that only an Appalachian insider such as Adams could achieve.

Shelby Lee Adams's photographs have been shown in single-artist exhibits in New York, New Orleans, and Dallas, among other cities. Find out more about Shelby Lee Adams at shelby-lee-adams.blogspot.com

Vicki Goldberg is the author of The Power of Photography: How Photographs Changed Our Lives and editor of Photography in Print: Writings from 1816 to the Present. She writes on photography for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, American Photo, and other publications.

 

About Shelby Lee Adams

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Romance author Jayne Ann Krentz was born in Borrego Springs, California on March 28, 1948. She received a B.A. in history from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Masters degree in library science from San Jose State University. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a librarian. Her novels include: Truth or Dare, All Night Long, and Copper Beach. She has written under seven different names: Jayne Bentley, Amanda Glass, Stephanie James, Jayne Taylor, Jayne Castle, Amanda Quick and Jayne Ann Krentz. Her first book, Gentle Pirate, was published in 1980 under the name Jayne Castle. She currently uses only three personas to represent her three specialties. She uses the name Jayne Ann Krentz for her contemporary pieces, Amanda Quick for her historical fiction pieces, and Jayne Castle for her futuristic pieces. She has received numerous awards for her work including the 1995 Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Trust Me, the 2004 Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Falling Awake, the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, the Romantic Times Jane Austen Award, and the Susan Koppelman Award for Feminist Studies for Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance.
 
Published May 8, 2003 by University Press of Mississippi. 98 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Appalachian Lives

Publishers Weekly

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As in Appalachian Portraits (1993) and Appalachian Legacy (1998)), here photographer Adams works more as a collaborator than

Jul 07 2003 | Read Full Review of Appalachian Lives

Publishers Weekly

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A native of eastern Kentucky, Smith who heads the photography program at Salem State College, here collects 50 black-and-white portraits that provide intimate glimpses of mountain people cut off from the modern mainstream.

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Publishers Weekly

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As in Appalachian Portraits (1993) and Appalachian Legacy (1998)), here photographer Adams works more as a collaborator than a documentarian in rendering the "intense family environments"—isolated microcosms of farm, factory and self-employed kin—of eastern Kentucky.

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