You're Not from Around Here.
Photographs of East Tennessee
Photographs by Mike Smith. Introduction by Robert Sobieszek.
Center for American Places, Chicago, 2004. 120 pp., 92 color illustrations, 11¼x9¾".
The rolling hills of East Tennessee in Southern Appalachia were once considered the "wild west" of America despite their location east of the Mississippi. The hills are steeped in the mythical lore of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. The title of the book refers to the response Smith often met with during his photographic wanderings there. He moved to the region in 1981 to teach and quickly fell in love with the back roads and barnyards, satellite dishes and chicken coops. Using 6x7cm color negatives, Smith is able to get the detail typical of a larger negative but the versatility of a smaller camera. He shows us the views of tree covered hillsides in early morning light and rough rock roads bathed in afternoon fog, well-worn barns, porches littered with broken chairs, and snow dusted fields. But what balances this strong body of work -work that is on par with rising superstar Alec Soth -are the quiet, dignified portraits and interiors of homes of the very people who may have seen Smith as an outsider at first, but who ultimately, with courtesy and grace, agreed to allow him into their world.
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