Local Arts

‘Kindred’: Charlotte photographers offer revealing look at family

The quiet, horrific moment a young parent realizes she cannot protect her child.

A portrait of a partner who feels it’s truer now than the day it was made – seven years before – because it suggests what a stroke once stole from him.

A background filled with dark and light and gulls, foreshadowing a mother’s death.

Identical brothers, reacting as opposites to a sister’s lens.

“Kindred: Photographers Focus on Family” brings together the work of four Charlotte photographers and two of note from elsewhere, guest-curated by former Charlottean Brad Thomas for SOCO Gallery in Myers Park. The exhibition opens Feb. 3.

Linda Foard Roberts, Raymond Grubb and Carolyn DeMeritt have worked for decades in this city, each also playing key roles for the nonprofit photography center The Light Factory. Native Charlotteans Roberts and DeMeritt, and Grubb (grew up in Morganton, educated at Davidson College) have photographed family members for nearly as long, documenting relationships and places, fleeting time and unavoidable change.

Newly minted UNCC graduate Brittany Little is also a Charlotte native. The local artists’ work is joined by that of nationally noted David Hilliard of Massachusetts and Sally Mann.

Mann is known most widely for photographing her children growing up on the family farm in Virginia: “their triumphs, confusion, harmony and isolation, as well as the hardships that tend to befall children – bruises, vomit, bloody noses, wet beds – all of it,” as she put it last April in an essay for the New York Times. That essay narrowly preceded her memoir, “Hold Still,” and came more than 20 years after a 1992 Times story that called the work both “provocative” and “disturbing.” No wonder Thomas uses “famous, if not infamous” as introductory adjectives for her.

Thomas said this was “the perfect cultural storm”: He’d been invited by SOCO to organize an exhibition last spring and family had been much on his mind as he began the process of moving his from Charlotte to Minnesota. “The word ‘kindred’ is kind of a Southern word,” he says – and he’d also had lunch with SOCO Gallery’s Chandra Johnson at the same-named Davidson restaurant, so ...

“I just wanted to hear from the artists: Let’s have an exhibition where we know it’s an intimate space; almost like you’re coming into someone’s living room and these six artists are just telling you stories, you know?”

Each photograph will have a statement from the artist displayed with it.

You can also hear first-hand from three of the artists, who agreed to talk with the Observer about their work in the exhibition.

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