October 24, 2016 through January 19, 2017
Shelby Lee Adams was born in 1950 in Hazard, Kentucky. His photographs are collected and studied in more than 60 public museums and numerous private collections. He has exhibited in numerous one-person and group exhibitions internationally since 1974. His work has been documented in three books: “Appalachian Portraits,” “Appalachian Legacy,” “Appalachian Lives” with text by Vickie Goldberg, and “salt & truth” with text by James Enyeart and Catherine Evans. Shelby has received numerous awards throughout his career including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, an NEA Survey Grant, the Polaroid Corporation has collected, awarded grants and published his work internationally, and he was awarded The John Simon Guggenheim Photography Fellowship. Currently, Shelby exhibits, lectures and teaches photographic workshops nationally and internationally, while continuing his personal photographic work back home in Kentucky for now 40 years.
Statements by the artist:
“While visiting and re-photographing my subjects from year to year, our relationships grow and mature. My visual approach shifts as an individual might change, as we become more acquainted and invested in each other’s lives. When photographing, I encourage folks to experience themselves within, to bring up, to give, even to give-out a part of their inner being, to strengthen themselves by doing so because we are a generous people. I ask folks to look directly and straightforwardly into the camera, to concentrate, center themselves, and to search for their reflection in the camera’s lens. At that moment of their finding and seeing their own reflection, I press the cable release.”
“Some say they see only spectacles in many of our people. Often damaged dysfunctional families appear quite normal, because their harm is hidden within standard appearances. When we look at each other and our photographs with thoughtfulness and consideration, we see differently. Within loving families, members can see and receive the radiance and affection emanating through imperfections and defects within their own. That is the vision and view those in devoted and carrying relationships have always had. This is the perspective they wish for you to see, beyond surface appearances. But, society can’t seem to settle. We continue to test and redefine the poor and impaired, instead of accepting human differences and other’s limitations. Society always wants to change and improve another’s reality or hide-away. Thus, we have been this way for centuries.”