Rory Doyle’s Delta Quinceañera is “part of a larger body of work documenting Latino immigration in the rural Mississippi Delta over the last five years.” These images of a single Quinceañera, which shepherd the viewer from a Mass held in a young woman’s honor to a “dance party held in Cleveland, Mississippi’s local Army National Guard Armory,” convey the particular mix of grand, joyful celebration and deep, solemn importance that marks the transition from childhood to womanhood throughout Latin America.
Brett Schenning’s Small Towns, Big Dreams examines the effects 2008’s Great Recession had on rural American communities. Schenning is interested in what was left behind when many families who had settled in small towns “looking for a quieter way of life” were forced to move closer to urban centers and the employment possibilities they offered, and his photographs focus, in part, on that absence.
Ethan Tate’s photographs of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, reflect a complicated homecoming; Tate lived in the community when he was young and wasn’t entirely happy to return as an adult. He took long drives through the Delta as a way of re-acclimating to the place.
The photographs in Meghan Kirkwood’s Four Blocks in Chalmette were taken at four intervals within a four-block area of Chalmette, Louisiana between 2008 and 2017. Located east of the lower Ninth Ward, Chalmette sustained heavy flood damage during Hurricane Katrina. The neighborhood Kirkwood photographed, dense with rental properties, has been particularly slow to recover.
Devin Lunsford’s All the Place You’ve Got documents the changing landscape along Corridor X, a newly completed interstate project that connects Birmingham to Memphis through a once-remote part of northwest Alabama populated by desolate towns and shuttered coal mines.
Taken over the course of two consecutive summers, the photographs in Rosie Brock’s And Ever Shall Be explore the collision of economic depression and the familiar fantasy of the Southern county fair. A man in a Domino sugar t-shirt sits atop a white horse, a boy in a cowboy hat leans so close to the camera the rest of the world fades out of focus, and a woman, unsmiling, watches a carnival spectacle the viewer can’t see. Meanwhile the sun sets over empty train tracks and a carousel trailer, and the overall effect is at once hopeful and melancholic.
In Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad Jeanine Michna-Bales recreates the long voyage north toward freedom as it might have looked through the eyes of a single individual “oftentimes carrying little more than the knowledge that moss grows on the north side of trees.” These photographs of unpeopled rural landscapes, taken almost exclusively under the cover of descending or ebbing darkness, contain a sense of both intimacy and mystery, conveying “how vast, strange, and forbidding these remote places must have felt to those making the journey” with an almost painful steadiness of vision.