Explore the American South’s distinct, evolving, and contradictory character through an examination of photography from the 19th century to the present. A Long Arc: Photography and the American South since 1845 examines how photographers working in the region have reckoned with the South’s fraught history and posed urgent questions about American identity.  

This is the first major exhibition in more than 25 years to survey the history of photography coming out of the South and to chronicle the region’s pivotal role in the medium’s development since the 1840s. Organized chronologically, A Long Arc traces the South’s shifting identity in more than two hundred photographs made over more than 175 years. 

The exhibition’s individual sections delve into the themes of photography before, during, and after the Civil War; documentary photography of the 1930s and ‘40s; images of a post–World War II South in economic, racial, and psychic dissonance with the nation; photography as catalyst for change during the civil rights movement; reflective narrative photography of the late 20th century; and contemporary photography examining social, environmental, and economic issues.     

A Long Arc: Photography and the American South since 1845 presents a richly layered archive that captures the region’s beauty and complexity. Offering a full visual accounting of the South’s role in shaping American history, identity and culture, the exhibition includes photographs by Alexander Gardner, George Barnard, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Marion Post Wolcott, Robert Frank, Clarence John Laughlin, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Bruce Davidson, Danny Lyon, Doris Derby, Ernest Withers, Williams Eggleston, William Christenberry, Baldwin Lee, Sally Mann, Carrie Mae Weems, Susan Worsham, Carolyn Drake, Sheila Pree-Bright, RaMell Ross, and others. 

The exhibition is co-curated by Sarah Kennel, PhD, VMFA’s Aaron Siskind Curator of Photography and Director of the Raysor Center, with Gregory J. Harris, The Donald and Marilyn Keough Family Curator of Photography at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta 

A Long Arc: Photography and the American South since 1845 exhibition is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

DIRECTLY ABOVE DeFuniak Springs, Florida, 1984, Baldwin S. Lee (American, born 1951), gelatin silver print. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment, 2022.48

Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Exhibition Endowment
Julia Louise Reynolds Fund

Mr. and Mrs. Charles N. Whitaker

Carol Ann Bischoff and Mike Regan
Nancy and Wayne Chasen
Anne and Gus Edwards
Richard S. Reynolds Foundation

Birch Douglass
Teri Craig Miles
Gray-Nyerges Charitable Fund

Ann B. Carpenter | Christopher English and Meda Lane | Tammy and Brian Jackson | John and Michelle Nestler

This list reflects gifts as of April 12, 2024.

TOP OF PAGE Jackson, Mississippi, 1972, printed 1986, William Eggleston (American, born 1939), dry transfer print. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, funds provided by the Museum Purchase Program of the National Endowment for the Arts, matching funds provided by the Volunteer Committees of Art Museums, 89.50. © artist or artist’s estate