It is an area unfortunately associated with a lifestyle viewed as backwards with its inhabitants prone to being uneducated and violent, poverty stricken, and practicing inbreeding. Other parts of the rural south although not part of Appalachia have also been portrayed in the same way. Many photographers have rejected these portrayals and are trying to bring a sense of importance to the rest of the country about the people who lived or live there. Two new books and a New York Times site bring the the people of the rural south and Appalachian peoples to us.
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 the book’s 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."
His previous books, Appalachian Portraits and Appalachian Legacy (1998), 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. (this book is on order in the Central Library's History and Science Division).
The last look at the peoples of Appalachia is from the New York Times blog called Lens. The title, Growing Up Poor in Appalachia, looks at a group of poor, aimless Appalachian teenagers coping with a tough economy. This is photographer's Ian Bates The project and this is the first installment of an exploration of his generation’s experiences growing up amid high unemployment and breathtaking technological change.
and asked if he could take some pictures. This was his entree into a small group of teenagers and young adults tied together by friendship, frequent unemployment and a general feeling of hopelessness. Though he is about the same age as his subjects, his focus is clear: to make intimate photo essays that speak of his generation’s uncertain place in a rapidly changing world."
Find these books in the Art Division.