The Spirit of the Place: Photographs by Jack Leigh showcases the lyrical work of celebrated Savannah photographer Jack Leigh (American, 1948–2004). Leigh was among a generation of Southern photographers that came of age in the 1970s, including William Christenberry and William Eggleston, whose work focused on the subtle beauty found in ordinary and out of the way subjects of the American South.
Leigh was born in Savannah and devoted his career to documenting the unique character of his home city along with the marshlands, fishing villages, and roadside towns of the coastal low country. Working exclusively in black and white, he was drawn not only to the region’s landscape and aging architecture, but particularly to its people, those who possess a deep connection to the land and the sea. Many of his subjects—the oystermen, shrimp boat crews, and the residents of riverside hamlets—lead a vanishing way of life as urbanization and industrialization became more prevalent across the south. Through his discerning photographs, Leigh sought to capture the spirit of these places and the people that embody it. This exhibition is drawn from the High’s permanent collection and from a promised gift to the collection
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, The Land I'm Bound To: Photographs places Jack Leigh in the company of other documentary giants such as Walker Evans and Dorothea Lang. While technology and urban sprawl have transformed much of our country in the last half of the 20th century, Jack Leigh quietly documented the people and the landscape of the Southeastern coast, a region steeped in history and tradition. This publication is the photographer's tribute to the richly diverse culture of his native region. His subjects range from solitary oystermen working the fog-shrouded salt marshes of South Carolina to shrimp fishermen at sea to the swamps and marsh flats along Georgia's Ogeechee River, as well as the massive cranes and freighters of Savannah's busy port. Here, Leigh is both inclusive and expansive, offering some of his most memorable images as well as recent work that synthesizes the beauty and emotional grip the South has on many of us. 200 duotone photographs.