Artist: Timothy Hursley
Project: In the Delta: The Business of Dying
Description: The previous work of architecture photographer Timothy Hursley spans a wide breadth of space and subjects, from the brothels of Nevada, to the homes of polygamist families in Utah, to the efforts of Auburn University’s Rural Studio, a community-oriented design-build program based in Hale County, Alabama—the same region Walker Evans and James Agee famously documented on their trip to the sharecropping South in 1936. In his latest project, Hursley focuses on an altogether different, yet equally specific vein of the American aesthetic, one that embraces “the possibilities of commercial districts, surrounding industrial landscapes, and their funeral homes.”
The collection seen here, bound loosely by striking interior and exterior glimpses of this industry in the rural South, serves as a deeply captivating study of the structures involved in the preparation and burial of the dead. Taken primarily in and around the Mississippi River Delta, Hursley’s photos feature shots of errantly parked hearses, casket showrooms, ranks of carved granite, and portraits of rusted silos and warehouses that look, too, by nature of their juxtaposition, like rows of planted headstones.
To see more of Hursley’s work related to this installment and Hale County, Alabama, check out our episode of SoLost from 2013, “The Beauty of a Broken Silo.”