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Love’em or Hate’em: Shelby Lee Adams’ Exhibit Heads to Louisville, Chicago

Matt Frassica of The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.) published a preview today of  Appalachian photographer Shelby Lee Adams’ three-month exhibit at the Paul Paletti Gallery in Louisville, showing from March 1-May 31, and from May through June in Chicago. The prominent photographer is best known for his black and white environmental portraits of multi-generational Appalachian families living in isolated, rural areas. Described by some as documentary and others as Gothic and exploitative, most viewers and critics agree Adams’ body of work is compelling. Adams’ work, which can be viewed on his Web site, documents what he told Frassica is “a very specific, isolated segment of the culture, that’s also disappearing and changing.”

Frassica’s article illuminates not only Adams’ process of working with subjects, but his response to critics. Frassica captures the many dimensions to the critiques of Adams’, who released his latest book of portraits, Salt & Truth, last fall. He quotes Dwight Billings, a professor of sociology at the University of Kentucky, whose  opinion of Adams work  is also cited in the film The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams’ Appalachia,  as saying Adams’ “reinforces an awful lot of stereotypes about the region” emphasizing “the grotesque, frightening, bizarre, spooky.”

In balance to that viewpoint, Frassica talks to Silas House, interim director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College and co-publisher Beth Newberry of The HillVille, both of whom have conflicting feelings about the work. Read Frassica’s full story here—it’s a good’n.

For those readers within driving distance of Louisville or Chicago, here are details on where and when you can catch the show, and even connect with the photographer:

Exhibit in Louisville, March 1-31

Paul Paletti Gallery, 713 East Market St., Louisville, KY 40202

Phone: 502-589-9254
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm and by appointment

Artist reception at Paul Paletti Gallery in Louisville

 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 1

Salt and Truth Book Talk and Signing at Carmichael’s in Louisville

 4 p.m. Saturday, March 3

Carmichael’s Bookstore, 2720 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, Kentucky 40206

Phone: 502-896-6950

Exhibit in Chicago, May 4- June 28

Catherine Edelman Gallery

300 W. Superior St., Chicago, IL 60654
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 5:30 pm
Phone:  312-266-2350

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