Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Weeping Mary

Weeping Mary, Photographs by O. Rufus Lovett, Foreword by Anne Wilkes Tucker......another new photography book for me. Rufus is a long time friend and fellow Texas photographer. So while the book is new, I've been seeing these images emerge for years whenever there was an opportunity to connect with Rufus. He always had his portfolio box with him containing the latest work on this project.

Weeping Mary is a small community of the descendants of freed slaves in rural East Texas. Rufus has photographed in the community for a decade. The images are carefully composed in a square format and show a deep empathy with the people. While his craft is impeccable, it is the sense of intimacy and spontaneity that prevails.

Anne Wilkes Tucker, Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, writes eloquently in the Essay titled Pandora's Box about Weeping Mary, the community and the images. Titled Pandora's Box because Lovett's beautiful images have taken the lid off of this neglected community for better or worse and others have come to get a piece of what he has found but not necessarily with the same empathy and sensitivity for the people that he has. She asks the question for all photographers, "How does one balance whatever harm the invasion of privacy might cause against the value of preserving something of beauty and human relevance?"

This book has that spirit of the South, that something that is hard to put your finger on but you know it when you see it in other Southern photographer's work. Birney Imes, Sally Mann, Debbie Fleming Caffery, Keith Carter and Ralph Meatyard who quickly come to mind. It is a South that is hard to find in Atlanta, Houston, or Nashville. But it is still simmering below the surface.....spiritual, sometimes sinister, raw, emotional.....in the landscape and in small communities like Weeping Mary.

Weeping Mary. Definitely a book that needs to be in your collection.

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