The work of Maude Schuyler Clay and her husband, Langdon Clay, of Sumner is being featured in the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston’s exhibition “Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South.”
The exhibition is being held simultaneously at both the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and the City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston, South Carolina, until Saturday.
“Southbound” is the largest exhibition ever produced of photographs of and about the American South in the 21st century. The exhibition is composed of 56 photographers’ visions of the South over the first decades of the 21st century. It offers a composite image of the region. The photographs echo stories told about the South as a bastion of tradition, as a region remade through Americanization and globalization, and as a land full of surprising realities.
The project’s purpose is to investigate the senses of place in the South that congeal, however fleetingly, in the spaces between the photographers’ looking, their images, and pre-existing ideas about the region.
Maude Schuyler Clay’s featured work includes “Bill Eggleston,” who is presented photographed through a window, seemingly unaware of Clay’s presence. The photograph was made in Eggleston and Clay’s maternal grandfather’s former law office in downtown Sumner, now the location of an art gallery. Her photograph presents her internationally renowned cousin as an unassuming Southern gentleman who is completely at ease in a modest small-town environment. Another of her portraits also include one of her husband: “Langdon, Degas.” Her spouse sits relaxed below a framed Degas painting. Degas’ representation of a dancer caught in motion contrasts strikingly with Clay’s capturing of her husband in a quiet, contemplative moment.
Langdon Clay’s images featured in the exhibition includes “Delta Shells,” which presents a close-up of the ground on a dirt road in the flat Delta farmland. Tire tracks and red shotgun shells stand out against the dirt and a horizon of trees stretching across the background in soft focus. Another work, “Burning Winter Wheat Field,” he documents a common practice in the Delta. Farmers sometimes double-crop the land, growing wheat in winter then burning its residue after harvest before planting soybean crops in spring. A thin ribbon of flames crosses the bottom of the image, separating the brown and black charred sections of the field.
After its debut in Charleston, “Southbound” will travel nationally, including stops in Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Meridian; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
For more information, visit Southboundproject.org.