Thursday, November 13, 2014

Call For Submissions: Looking at Appalachia Photography Project Seeks to Create Broad Regional Portrait

From, photographer, Roger May- in Belt Magazine
"What images first come to mind when you hear the word “Appalachia”? No, really. The first image?
One of the things I like to do in a group setting, particularly with students, is run through this exercise. I explain that there is no right or wrong answer. It always starts slowly. Not a peep from anyone. Inevitably, someone mentions coal. Then bluegrass. After a few minutes and some steady coaxing, we get down to the nitty-gritty. Incest. Trailers. Mountain Dew. Lazy. Uneducated. Now we’re talking. After compiling a list of a dozen or so of these visual cues, everyone seems to breathe a sigh of relief when it registers that they’re not alone in their answers. Nearly everyone thinks these things, but to say them out loud? That can be frightening. My next question is to ask what about these cues are unique to Appalachia or can they be found in other places in America. One by one, we all agree that not a single stereotype listed can be ascribed solely to Appalachia. So why is it then that we’ve come to associate them so strongly?"
May points out that many of the very well meaning New Deal and Progressive Era images of staggering poverty have stuck in the global imagination.

"Those images often represented the poorest parts of the area — to muster support for their intended cause — but unjustly came to present the entirety of the region while simultaneously perpetuating stereotypes.
So, what is it about these stereotypes, these visual triggers that are immediately conjured up when Appalachia is referenced? And how can we retrain our thinking and seeing?"
How have these stereotypes perpetuated the very poverty they aimed to fight? Brain Surgery and robotics in Pittsburgh is as much part of the "Appalachian Story" as poverty in Logan County, West Virginia.

50 years after the "War on Poverty", May aims to crowdsource a more complex and realistic picture of a vast area- that includes the entire Pittsburgh metro.


Submissions are not limited by style or subject matter (portraits, landscapes, etc.), however:
1. All work submitted must be the copyright of the photographer.
2. Photographs must be made in calendar year 2014.
3. Photographs must be made in one of the 13 state’s regions the Appalachian Regional Commission defines as Appalachian (here).
4. Submissions are open through 31 December 2014.
Include the date (month, day, and year), city, county, and state. Submissions must be in .JPG format, sized at 1500 pixels on the longest side, 72ppi. File names must include your last name and the city and state where the photograph was made (example: maychattaroywv2.jpg). Submissions received in any other format will not be accepted. Please do not watermark or add text to your submissions.
Photographs will be indexed by the state in which they were made. You are not limited to submitting work about one state, however please be aware of the ARC map boundaries. To be clear, this project is not seeking poverty pictures. Will poverty be included? Yes. Poverty exists to be sure, however the purpose of this project extends far beyond that.
Email submissions and questions to

May has already lined up an exhibition in Spartanburg, South Carolina- but hopes to tour the exhibition.
Sounds like a published book is also possible.
See, Looking At Appalachia for more details and images as project evolves.

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