artist / participant

press release

For more than four decades, William Christenberry has explored the regional identity of the American South, focusing on his hometown area around Hale County, Alabama. Beginning in November 2008, visitors to the Asheville Art Museum will have the unique opportunity to see the drawings that Christenberry calls the basis and inspiration of all his other work. Christenberry is frequently the subject of national acclaim for his photographs of rural Alabama, but this exhibition offers the chance to experience a more complete representation of his life and work.

This exhibition reveals the complexity of the artist’s investigation of both the American South and his own family heritage. Christenberry’s theme is the narrative of place. He photographs ramshackle buildings, weathered commercial signs, lonely back roads, white-washed churches and decorated graves. Dutifully returning to the same locations annually, the green barn and the Bar-B-Q Inn, among others, Christenberry fulfills a personal ritual and documents the physical changes brought on by the passing of time. In addition to 50 drawings, the exhibition also features paintings, photographs, constructions and the Klan Room Tableau. The work included shows the many sides of rural Alabama, both positive and negative, and includes many drawings from the artist’s collection that have not been previously exhibited.

William Christenberry’s Kodak Brownie photographs are touring under the auspices of Aperture. A major exhibition featuring these photographs recently closed at the Smithsonian Institution American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Christenberry has been a member of the art faculty at the Corcoran College of Art and Design since 1968 and lives and works in Washington, D.C.

This exhibition is organized by the University of Virginia Art Museum. This exhibition is sponsored in part by the Chaddick Foundation and Ms. Hedy Fischer and Mr. Randy Shull.

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William Christenberry: Site/Possession