Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Southern Exposures: Past and Present Through the Lens of William Christenberry


"They were like perfect little poems," Walker Evans said about the three-inch-square pictures of the American South that William Christenberry took with his amateur Brownie camera.

The Brownie was never intended for exacting documentation or creative expression; it was the camera used for snapshots of family gatherings and vacations in the 1940's and 50's. What a crafty little camera, then, for Mr. Christenberry's persistent chronicle of the regional architecture and artifacts in his native Hale County, Ala. His little snapshots managed to capture the local dialect of his hometown in visual terms.

Mr. Christenberry was born in 1936 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., not 20 miles away from the migrant farmers Evans photographed that same year and later published in "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" with text by James Agee.


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