PHOTOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM GEDNEY | AN AMERICAN ARCHIVE, KENTUCKY

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Man driving car and drinking can of beer. Kentucky, 1972. William Gedney Photographs and Writings Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

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Chances are, if you’re reading this you’re like me– isolated from the starkness and poverty represented in William Gedney’s haunting, honest images of Kentucky life taken back in 1964 & 1972.  We get wrapped up in our own comfortable little coccoon and forget that there’s a world out there, even today, without the internet, shopping malls, and Starbucks.  Driving across this great country years ago, and seeing parts of the rural south with my own eyes exposed me to a way of life in the outskirts of America that I was largely ignorant of.  Most of us have a whole lot to be thankful for, like the simple conveniences and access that we overlook everyday.

From the mid 1950s through the early 1980s, William Gedney (1932-1989) photographed throughout the United States (as well as India, and Europe). From street scenes outside his Brooklyn apartment, to the daily chores of unemployed coal miners, and the indolent lifestyle of hippies in Haight-Ashbury– Gedney recorded the lives of others with remarkable clarity and poignancy. These photographs (along with his notebooks and writings), illuminate the vision of an intensely private man who, as a writer and photographer, revealed the lives of others with striking sensitivity.

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Boy covered by dirt smoking cigarette with one hand, holding can of tobacco in other. Kentucky, 1964. William Gedney Photographs and Writings Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

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