“This is and always will be where my heart is. It is what I care about. Everything I want to say through my work comes out of my feelings about that place–its positive aspects and its negative aspects.” – William Christenberry
This sentiment, expressed by the artist William Christenberry (1936 – 2016) in an interview with American Suburb X about working in his home state of Alabama, is central to the Mobile Museum of Art’s new exhibition, CHRISTENBERRY: In Alabama. The exhibition honors Christenberry’s lifelong “love affair” with the rural South, his sense of home and family, and the various Alabama institutions’ dedicated support of the artist and his work—an all too perfect way to kick off Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration.
Hailed as “one of the most respected and influential artists of the modern South,” by the Washington Post and the artist whose iconic photographs have been described by Walker Percy as a “poetic evocation of a haunted countryside,” William Christenberry has received national recognition for his work, even though its subject matter stays within the state lines. Christenberry lived and taught in Washington D.C., but he made annual pilgrimages back to Alabama to make his iconic work.
The exhibition at MMofA feels as if you are walking through an intimate portrait of the artist, his personal relationship with his family, and his professional one with the various Alabama institutions who collected his work; but it is also a tribute to the state itself, its past—both good and bad—and hopeful future.
CHRISTENBERRY: In Alabama is now on view at Mobile Museum of Art through June 4, 2017. For hours and information, go to www.mobilemuseumofart.com.