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The Home Funeral

The Home Funeral


Gelatin silver print

Image: 37.7 x 48.2 cm (14 13/16 x 19 in.); Paper: 40.1 x 50.6 cm (15 13/16 x 19 15/16 in.); Matted: 55.9 x 71.1 cm (22 x 28 in.)

The Thomas and Mildred Dougherty Foundation 1995.86

Impression: 20


A native of eastern Kentucky, Shelby Lee Adams has recorded the lives and complex culture of its Appalachian mountain people for nearly 30 years. Returning annually to a community disconnected from mainstream contemporary society, he has developed long-standing relationships and respect for its inhabitants. Acknowledging their poor physical conditions, they nonetheless give of themselves honestly and openly to the photographer. This view of a home funeral depicts the commonly displayed pride, independence, and reverence for the family unit. Adams divides the image in two, illustrating a simultaneous, generational acceptance of life's harsh realities, including death, while embracing life and traditional values.

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