The Speed Art Museum is pleased to present Southern Elegy: Photography from the Stephen Reily Collection, an exhibition of photographs from the Louisville-based collection of Stephen Reily. Reflecting the complex history of the American South, the images in this exhibition address the themes of loss, ruins, beauty, and violence, through evocative images of the South’s natural landscape, architecture, and residents. Southern Elegy features 75 photographs, chiefly spanning from the 1930s to works from the past decade. The 14 photographers represented include George Barnard, William Christenberry, William Eggleston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, William Gedney, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Clarence John Laughlin, Russell Lee, Deborah Luster, Sally Mann, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Robert Polidori, and Doug Rickard.
Having researched the photographers who have documented the American South from the nineteenth century to present day, Reily built a collection on the premise of photography as an elegiac process, or a poetic form of “capturing loss.” As a medium that records the past, photography provides a means of exploring the contested and difficult history of the South through the documentation of specific moments and places. The South provided artists with a landscape shaped by slavery and the Civil War, and in later decades, discrimination, poverty, violence, and human-made disaster. Reily explains, “Southern photography is often inspired by its own sense of captured memory, self-aware of the losses that underlie the landscape before us as well as the losses that will transform it once again.” [...]
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website