MOCA’s Land Inhabited exhibit features modern-day Southern photographers

The photographs were provided by the Do Good Fund, a Georgia nonprofit that collects Southern photography and makes works available to venues for free
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Alan and Friend, Vicksburg, MS, 1983 by Baldwin Lee
Alan and Friend, Vicksburg, MS, 1983 by Baldwin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Do Good Fund

If you were wowed by the High Museum’s recent Walker Evans exhibition, make a date to see MOCA’s Land Inhabited before it closes on November 19. The show features works by modern-day Southern photographers, including Knoxville, Tennessee’s Baldwin Lee. An artist of Chinese descent who has been photographing the South—particularly black lives in the South—since the early 1980s, Lee studied under Evans at Yale and was one of the last people to work as his printer before Evans’s death.

“What really appeals to me about his images is not only [Lee’s] willingness to document things as he saw them rather than romanticizing, but the fact that, like Evans’s work from 50 years earlier, they have a frozen-in-time quality,” says Alan Rothschild, founder of the Columbus, Georgia-based arts nonprofit the Do Good Fund, which loaned all of the images featured in the show. “I asked [MOCA director Annette Cone-Skelton] if there was a way to include a number of [Lee’s] photographs,” says Rothschild. “It’s one of the most remarkable bodies of work taken in America in the last half century.”

Destiny, Grandmother’s Roses, VA by Susan Worsham
Destiny, Grandmother’s Roses, VA by Susan Worsham

Photograph courtesy of Do Good Fund

Since it was created in 2012, the Do Good Fund has amassed a large collection of contemporary Southern photography by established and emerging artists. It makes the works available—free of charge—to institutions like museums, as well as community centers, main street storefronts, and other nontraditional venues. “A lot of these images are taken in the rural South, where folks don’t have local museums or access to art,” says Rothschild. “We want to make sure as broad an audience as possible has an opportunity to see this work documenting their homes and their lives.”

This article originally appeared in our November 2016 issue.

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