© 2018 Beverly Conley, Documentary Photography

ARTIST STATEMENTS

Life in the Ozarks: An Arkansas Portrait 

 

 

My ongoing project began in 2003 with a drive down a rural country road. I had recently moved to Fayetteville and was anxious to explore my new surroundings. The resulting images tell the stories of people, events and everyday life in and around small towns in the rugged Ozark Mountains. They represent different aspects of these communities – young and old, recent immigrants, preachers, cowboys, farmers and those whose families have lived in the Ozarks for generations.

 

I am interested in documenting the vestiges of an older Ozarks. There is a sense of timelessness that I want to convey in my work. I am drawn to the less travelled back roads where catfish are caught bare-handed, folks gather on porches to play bluegrass and subsistence farming is still in existence.

Living and photographing in the same place gave me the opportunity to observe the changes of a region in transition. Northwest Arkansas experienced tremendous growth in the last decade with rural communities inching closer and closer to cities. I really imagined this unique Arkansas heritage would be lost. What I have since discovered is the resilience and self- sufficiency of a complex culture that stands with one foot in the present and the other in the past. An individual might have a day job at a Walmart but returns to a hand built home and the traditions of the ‘holler’ at night.

 

Through these photographs and words it is my intention to preserve and share the richness of this Southern way of life with a broader audience.

E. 4th St & Prospect Ave Cleveland, Ohio

When I started photographing this area twenty-five years ago it was occupied mainly by African American shopkeepers and workers. Most had practiced their skills there for many years. Now these streets known as a part of the Gateway District are home to restaurants, entertainment venues, upscale apartments and condominiums. The streets are smoother and there are more parking lots, but an important slice of inner-city life in Cleveland has been lost.