Bill Christenberry: Brownies
August 24 through November 10, 2019
On view in the Hughes and Wilson Galleries
Working in various media, Bill Christenberry’s (1936–2016) photographic work brought him the most recognition. Using a Brownie camera, Christenberry captured the rural landscapes of his home state of Alabama and he often focused his lens on Hale County, where he spent many summers as a child. Reflecting on the development of his work and style, Christenberry observed, “I wanted to deal with the landscape. What I call the landscape of my childhood, things I grew up with in Alabama, both the positive and the negative.”
Traveling back every summer from his home in Washington, D.C. (since 1968), Christenberry tracked the changes in the environment by repeatedly photographing–from year to year–various buildings and the surrounding landscape. These images focus on the changes in what the artist terms “vernacular architecture,” primarily the rapidly vanishing structures from the 1920s and 1930s. The resulting photographs become detailed records of a particular time and place and are stunning representations of the rural south.
Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
William Christenberry (American, 1936–2016), Store with Signs, Greensboro, Alabama, negative 1975, printed 1995, chromogenic print on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Friedlander, 2004.15.12