For more than 40 years, Sally Mann (American, born 1951) has made experimental, elegiac and hauntingly beautiful photographs that explore the overarching themes of existence: memory, desire, death, the bonds of family and nature’s magisterial indifference to human endeavor. What unites her broad body of work, including portraits, still lifes, landscapes and other studies, is that it is all “bred of a place”: the American South.
A native of Virginia, Mann has long written about what it means to live in the South and be identified as a Southerner. This major exhibition of the celebrated photographer’s work investigates how her relationship with her native land—as place and source of identity, with a rich literary and artistic tradition and a troubled history—has shaped her photographs. By incorporating a deep love of the South with her knowledge of its historically fraught heritage, Mann creates photographs that prompt powerful, provocative questions about history, identity, race and religion.
Organized into five sections—family, landscape, battlefields, legacy and mortality—and featuring many works not previously exhibited, the exhibition is both a sweeping overview of Mann’s artistic achievement over the past four decades and a focused exploration of how the South emerges in her work as a powerful and provocative force that continues to shape American identity and experience.