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A Vanishing Generation: 44601 Veeta Terrell, 92

Kirksey, Gary

A Vanishing Generation: 44601 Veeta Terrell, 92

piezograph print, ed. 5/100

2003 Purchase, Purchase Award, 2003 Appalachian Corridors Exhibition

Gary Kirksey worked as a commercial photographer for several years before adopting his current documentary style of work. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in advertising from Miami University in 1978 and is currently an associate professor of visual communication at Ohio University.

In 1996, Kirksey was documenting African American life in Appalachian coal towns when he got the idea for his "A Vanishing Generation" series. The series is comprised of portaits of his elderly relatives and neighbors in his hometown of Alliance Ohio, a small community southeast of Akron. Kirksey sought to capture character of the people who came to Alliance in the early part of the twentieth century to work in the thriving steel industry. He realized that bits of history would disappear with the passing of each person who had shaped and influenced the town .

"A Vanishing Generation: 44601, Veeta Terrell, 92" depicts Kirksey's aunt standing against a white backdrop. "Shooting them against bare white make you look at them for who they are," Kirksey explains. "You can't make judgments based upon their surroundings." The large size of the print highlights details of her hands and face that would be lost in a smaller photograph. It is captivating in its simplicity and presents the subject with dignity and respect.

The piezograph (also known as a "piezo") is used by photographers who work in black & white format. It is an inkjet printing process that permits large black & white prints to be made from a digital photograph. The piezograph is favored by black & white photographers because of the permanence of the ink - they do not fade over time like typical inkjet prints.