Looking Back to Look Ahead

By  |  July 24, 2018
© Richard Schramm © Richard Schramm

Artist: Richard Schramm

Project: Past and Present in a Southern Town

Description: In his photographs, Richard Schramm captures the town of Enfield, North Carolina—a place that is currently “looking back so that it can look ahead.” Enfield has a rich agricultural history, but like many towns of its kind, mid-twentieth century mechanization upended the local economy. Today, Enfield is home to many abandoned storefronts and warehouses.

In an effort to revive the spirit of the place and to draw attention to the town’s past, residents have decorated vacant shop windows with antiquated household items, which speak to the town’s sense of the past and hopes for the future. Enfield commissioned artist Napoleon Hill to paint a mural near the center of town that celebrates the town’s agricultural heritage. His mural features two laborers in a field with their backs turned to the viewer. The racial identity of the laborers is left purposefully ambiguous in an attempt to unite members of both races through their shared history in this place.


Eyes on the South is curated by Jeff Rich. The weekly series features selections of current work from Southern artists, or artists whose photography concerns the South. To submit your work to the series, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Richard Schramm lives in Carrboro, North Carolina. He has been making pictures for forty years, but now, upon retirement, devotes himself full-time to photography, including taking courses at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies. He looks for the ironies in Southern life, especially those created by the interplay of past and present.