Eudora-Welty

I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them–with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself.
—   Eudora Welty
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Eudora Welty: 27 Portraits

A year before her first story was published, Eudora Welty was working as a junior publicity agent for the Works Progress Administration, documenting the effects of the Great Depression on rural Mississippi. She traveled from town to town taking snapshots that she would later develop in a darkroom set up in her kitchen.  

“Making pictures of people in all sorts of situations, I learned that every feeling waits upon its gesture, and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it,” she wrote of those experiences. “These were things a story writer needed to know.”

Some of her photographs have just gone on display at the Wiljax Gallery in Cleveland, Mississippi.  Presented in conjunction with the Eudora Welty Foundation, “Eudora Welty: 27 Portraits” is a small exhibition that reveals Welty as a gifted photographer and offers viewers a unique glimpse into the Depression-era South.

We at the OA are huge fans of Welty’s camerawork. One of her photos graced the cover of our second issue, back in 1992.  Her portraiture, like her writing, is subtle, beautiful, and without pretention.  Even if she hadn’t become a major voice in Southern literature, her pictures merit viewing in their own right.

The exhibit runs until October 25.  For more information, check out the gallery website.

It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they come from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them – with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself.
—  Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings