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Appalachian Portraits (Author and Artist) Hardcover – October 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Series: Author and Artist
  • Hardcover: 108 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Pr of Mississippi (Trd); 1st edition (October 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0878056467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878056460
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 9.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,571,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A native of eastern Kentucky, Smith who heads the photography program at Salem State College, here collects 50 black-and-white portraits that provide intimate glimpses of mountain people cut off from the modern mainstream. These Appalachian Kentuckians reveal a grim, hardscrabble dignity. The large families Adams visits crowd their porches for group portraits, nearly bursting out of the photographer's frame, but few members are smiling. Several photographs hint at much deeper stories: one family scene includes a midget adult in a diaper; another, in a dirt yard in front of a trailer, pictures a worn woman with a misspelled homemade tattoo: "Born to Loose." Smith ( Oral History ) offers some brief, evocative fictions that "might well" be the stories of the people pictured; still, the book could also have used more concrete information. (Nov.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I grew up in central KY, just 1 1/2 hours away from Appalachian KY. While the stories and families depicted in these photos are quite true to their nature, it may offer a skewed view of Eastern Kentucky life. Not everyone over there lives in the condition that my dad and I jokingly call "Squalor in the 'holler." However, it happens to be the part that is fascinating. I think the purpose of this book was not to represent Eastern KY, but to represent the intense poverty of the region and to share a glimpse of a lifestyle that most of us cannot comprehend. This book shows what people want to see of Appalachian KY. It's what they are looking for, and it is delivered. That is a place that time has left behind. It's one of the poorest regions in the U.S. due to several certain factors and it is fascinating to see how other folks live. It is a different world over there. If you enjoy thinking about human geography and sociology, this book may welllead to hours of thought.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tom Brody on June 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is attractive on several levels. Bluegrass fans will like the heartfelt portraits of ancient, weathered men cradling banjos, guitars, or a homemade Jew's harp. Fans of the Foxfire series of books on Appalachian crafts and survival skills will like Shelby Lee Adams' Ellis Bailey, Yeaddiss, 1989 (posing with a large animal skin); Mary Napier, Viper, 1989 (posing with squirrel trap and skins); The hog killing, 1990; and Chester and his hounds, Delphia, 1992. People who are amazed by photographer Nicholas Nixon's use of a 4X5 camera for ensemble portaits (Nicholas Nixon Photographs From One Year (1983) Untitled 31, The Friends of Photography) will find even more to admire in Shelby Lee Adams' portraits: Leddie with children, 1990; Children at Topmost, 1991; and Banks family portait, Beech Fork, 1987. Fans of photographer Russell Lee and his portraits of po' folks living in homes where newspapers line the walls for insulation (see, e.g., Russell Lee Photographer (1978) by F.Jack Hurley) will find much to admire in Shelby Adams' photographs of the Napier family home. Fans of Richard Avedon's In the American West will like Shelby Adams' The coal miner, Isom, 1988, and other portraits. Overall, though, there is something else busy at work here. Many of the photographs are shocking or chilling. All of the images depict people living in squallor. A weatherbeated young woman poses by a wheelbarrow filled with trash, wearing a misspelled tattoo on her arm reading: BORN TO LOOSE. The woman cradles a beautiful, spic'n'span baby, where the contrasting cleanliness of the baby only increases the shock that is lent by the trash and tattoo. In another portrait, three churchgoers (two men and a woman) pose by their church, smiling, but their smiles seem oddly unnatural.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jon Bogart on July 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Shelby Lee Adam's doesn't, as some accuse him of, train his camera on the families of Eastern Kentucky to ridcule or expose them in their poverty or backwardness. Instead, because of his devotion to capturing in an authentic way authentic people, he simply and lovingly captures their reality. Is the poverty easy to look at? No. Is the "backwardness" easy to understand? Not very. But Adam's neither condemns nor condones his subjects; he simply and carefully records. We should all be grateful for that.
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