Through A Southern Lens: Sally Mann retrospective comes to the High Oct. 19

Sally Mann (Photo by Kim Rushing)

The High Museum has been scoring some serious exhibitions the last two years – Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” and “European Masterworks” from The Phillips Collection – and another is on the way: a retrospective of celebrated American photographer Sally Mann.

“A Thousand Crossings,” which opens Oct. 19 and continues to Feb. 2, will feature more than 100 images made by the often controversial photographer.  Her black and white photography, which includes the 19th century “wet plate” process, explores memory, desire, death, the bonds of family and nature’s indifference to human endeavor.

Sally Mann (American, born 1951), Deep South, Untitled (Scarred Tree), 1998, gelatin silver print, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund

A native of Virginia, Mann has long written about what it means to live in the South and be identified as a Southerner. The exhibition investigates how her relationship with her native land—as place and source of identity, with a rich literary and artistic tradition and a troubled history—has shaped her photographs.

By incorporating a deep love of the South with her knowledge of its historically fraught heritage, Mann creates photographs that prompt powerful, provocative questions about history, identity, race and religion.

Organized into five sections —family, landscape, battlefields, legacy and mortality—and featuring many works not previously exhibited, the exhibition is both a sweeping overview of Mann’s artistic achievement over the past four decades and a focused exploration of how the South emerges in her work as a powerful and provocative force that continues to shape American identity and experience.

Sally Mann (American, born 1951) Last Light, 1990, gelatin silver print
Joseph M. Cohen Family Collection

The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Peabody Essex Museum.

The exhibition is co-curated by the High’s new Donald and Marilyn Keough Family Curator of Photography Sarah Kennel (previously with the Peabody Essex Museum), who developed the project with Sarah Greenough, senior curator of photographs at the National Gallery.

“I’m thrilled to launch my tenure at the High with ‘A Thousand Crossings,’ an exhibition that is not only dear to my heart, but also makes perfect sense for the museum, which awarded Sally Mann the first ‘Picturing the South’ commission in 1996. Mann’s drive to ask the big questions—about love, death, war, race and the fraught process of growing up—coupled with her ability to coax powerful emotional resonances from the materials of her art make her one of today’s most compelling artists.”

For tickets and more information, visit High.org.

Sally Mann (American, born 1951), Triptych, 2004, 3 gelatin silver prints, The Sir Elton John Photography Collection
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