In the small, agricultural community of Drake, Kentucky—between Bowling Green and Nashville, about a half-hour north of the Tennessee border—is a small country store called Drake Vintage Music and Curios, and its proprietor, a man named Freeman Kitchens, is the most singular collector I’ve ever encountered.
While her academic peers chatted on the other side of the building, Howley took a seat on a bench in a different conference room and bore witness to her first cage fights. Before her, on an octagonal platform lit by a lofted spotlight and enclosed by a six-foot-tall chain link fence, two men “tore at one another with kicks and strikes, knees and elbows,” crumpling cartilage and cracking bones. Howley found herself genuinely mesmerized—instead of looking away or covering her eyes, she leaned in.
I was born in rural eastern North Carolina and raised up in Duplin County, a place focused on farming and food. Memories of homegrown collards boiling at my granny’s and fish frying under sheds, blue smoke rolling out of hog cookers and steam rising off clusters of oysters spread on a communal table, formed deep impressions on me. No words I have are enough. I make pictures.
Gough uses this project as "a lifeline—a way of accessing home from afar. The tension between the realities captured on film and the mythical Kentucky that can only exist in song lyrics imbues these photographs with a sense of loss and impermanence."