Mike Disfarmer, born Michael Meyer, documented Depression era and wartime American rural life in Heber Springs, Arkansas. In a spare studio, using an unceremonious approach, Disfarmer created a body of portraits which are honest and unpretentious. In a time and place where few owned cameras and family was valued above all, Disfarmer captured the range of personalities living in Heber Springs. He shares their lives through images; young and old, women and men innocently wearing their pride and affections. Disfarmer’s portraits of this rural community, reveal a shared bond rarely seen in contemporary society.
“Taking his subjects as they presented themselves, and using a plain studio wall as his background, Mike Disfarmer made a wonderful, selfless record of a time, place and people that look something like the family values America that politicians keep fantasizing about. . . .the inclusion of many images not seen before settles the lingering issue of whether Disfarmer’s talent depends on skillful post hoc editing. It doesn’t: Disfarmer is the real thing, and no other rediscovered photographer of the last quarter-century–excepting E.J. Bellocq–comes close to equaling his naive genius.“(Andy Grundberg, New York Times Book Review)
Works in the exhibition on loan from theÂ Arkansas Arts Center.
– Lecture by Seattle curator, writer and professor ROD SLEMMONS on the work of Seydou Keita and Mike Disfarmer. Saturday, May 12 at 2 pm.