Shelby Lee Adams, Leddie and Children

1997.01.01_shelby_lee_adamsJune 28th, 2016
Shelby Lee Adams
Leddie and Children
Silver Gelatin Print, 11” X 14”, 1990

American Photography
Gallery Purchase in 2009

Continuing our Summer Collection Highlights Series we will be emphasizing a print by an American Photographer Shelby Lee Adams.  

“All the while my mind was racing. I wanted to convey both the intimacy of a child’s curiosity within a vast family landscape and to capture the beauty of the Appalachian mountain’s evening light.”

“Museum of Contemporary art Photography.”  Museum of Contemporary Photography. N.p., n.d. Web.. 20 June 2016

Appalachia is not only Adams’s birthplace, but the subject of his photographs as well. His images crystallize the familiar shacks and extended families into something unexpected.  One begins to speculate about all the many possibilities of the family’s dynamic, and heritage.  The wide range of personalities and perspectives that are depicted so clearly on the faces of the siblings leaves a residue of wonder.  The untold wisdom and disconnect from metropolitan backgrounds is illustrated so naturally and beautifully through their expressions and manor. Adams achieves both a special quality of light and a depth of field that keeps everything, from the lace detail and tattered wood grain in the foreground to the wet leaves and lingering fog in the background, in focus. A division of space and clarity marks this composition in abundant perspective.  Adams himself, having grown up in Kentucky and familiar with the mountain culture, is both an insider and an outside observer – a dichotomy the documentary photographer must frequently confront. He takes on this role once again in “Leddie and Children”, conveying juxtaposition, bringing us in from the serene wide-open fog of the quiet mountains to the claustrophobic familial closeness.


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