Appalachia and Beyond: The Kentucky Documentary Photographic Project, 1975-1977

Appalachia and Beyond: The Kentucky Documentary Photographic Project, 1975-1977

Stopover. Oddville. Meta. Climax. Dwarf. Ned. Beauty. Mud Lick. Viper. Thousand Sticks. Paw Paw. These are some of the towns Bill Burke, Bob Hower, and Ted Wathen photographed during their historic three-year survey of Kentucky from 1975 to 1977.

I became aware of this work several years ago, but it wasn’t until I recently received one of the few mock-ups in existence, consisting of 165 prints, that I began to understand its importance. I am captivated by the timelessness and soul of these photographs that are familiar to me of a place I am from and where I currently make pictures. There is a certain majesty to finds like these.

For me, this work is just as rich today as when it was made. There is a realness that keeps me coming back to these images, and when looked at not as a work of totality, but as a longer view layered with complexity, it becomes more timeless, more powerful. There is power in not only looking, but listening, too.

These photographs stretch beyond the geographic boundary of Appalachia proper, but serve to remind us of our connectedness, our shared origins, and our resilience.