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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

A Long Arc: Photography and the American South Since 1845

Gordon Parks, Ondria Tanner and Her Grandmother Window-Shopping, Mobile, Alabama, 1956.

Oct 12, 2023 – Jan 14, 2024
1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, United States

“You were trying to portray what you saw, and truthfully,” the Southern Gothic writer Eudora Welty once explained about her craft. Welty was also a photographer. After college, in the 1930s, she returned to her home state of Mississippi, and worked as a publicity agent for the Works Progress Administration. Using both her mediums, she recorded the devastating effects of the Great Depression. Back then, photography wasn’t as widespread in the American South as it would become in the 1950s. In 1956, when Gordon Parks was in Alabama, he created a photo essay for LIFE, titled “Segregation Story,” which looked closely at a multigenerational Black family. The poignant images made waves on the East Coast. During that decade, the camera would become an important tool for documenting the Civil Rights Movement. In this exhibition, photographs from the American South shed light on its complicated history, moving from the 1860s to the 1960s. —Elena Clavarino

Photo courtesy of the High Museum of Art