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Aaron Blum
Aaron Blum
Aaron Blum

Aaron Blum

Country: United States
Birth: 1983

Aaron Blum is an eighth generation West Virginian, and creates art deeply linked to his home. Most of his work centers around a single question, what does it mean to be Appalachian? Through this question he address many different artistic concepts from idealized memory vs. stereotypes to ideas of folk taxonomy. His creation process is a diversified approach of image-based media to create a glimpse into his own concepts of Appalachia, and the social fabric of a very large and misrepresented people and place. He pays close attention to the quality of light and the landscape as well as cultural markers to produce a unique version of life in the hills. After graduating with degrees in photography from West Virginia University and Syracuse University, Aaron immediately began receiving recognition for his work including Center of Santa Fe, Silvereye Center for photography, Critical Mass, and FOAM.

About The Prevailing Winds of Hills and Heritage
Appalachia pulls at me like a haunted memory. There is an ineffable force that compels me to suspend reality and embrace superstition and myth. It is a longing to hold on to my culture and history in spite of the modern world. The nebulous forests, enveloping moss and dark corners seem to tell a purer truth.

Storytelling in Appalachia has a long-standing tradition, and it infuses the region with mystery. Using lore, pseudo-scientific study, and personal experiences as a compass I see this place through idealized eyes of wonder, and these images become my personal folklore. They bring to life the fantasies and memories I carry with me. This is a place where you can wash away sin in cool stream waters, where corpse birds come to ferry away souls to the next life, rocks burn and kudzu conceals. This is the place where the prevailing winds whisper old stories to those who know how to listen.
 

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Robert Hecht
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For over fifty years, Robert Hecht has been a dedicated fine art photographer. He is largely self-taught, having learned his craft primarily by studying the prints and books of many of the medium's greats, and then by attempting to apply what he absorbed from them in the darkroom (and later in the digital darkroom). In addition, he studied briefly with photographer and teacher Ruth Bernhard in the 1970's, and considers that experience meaningful for giving him direct contact and exchange of ideas with a master. His work has been exhibited internationally, purchased for both private and public collections, and showcased in many of the leading photography periodicals. Professionally, he has worked primarily as a producer-director of educational film and video programs, first at Stanford University and then in his own video production business for the past several decades. He and his wife live in Portland, Oregon. Statement I consider photography a way, if you will, to bring my experience of the visual world into clearer focus. Practicing the art of photography, which I consider a way of life in and of itself, has heightened my awareness of how in our everyday lives we are constantly surrounded by interesting subject matter. In contrast, during my early years of doing this work, I looked mainly to the classic landscape for inspiration, often pursuing dramatic vistas with large-format cameras. However, over time I came to see that I do not necessarily have to "go out shooting" or travel to impressive locales to find subjects—rather, I merely have to keep my eyes open to what is right here around me in my immediate environment and, without actually searching for a picture, simply be prepared should a picture jump out of the random visual chaos and present itself to me. This shift in focus has led me to a more spontaneous approach to making images, often enabling me to find great beauty in the most mundane materials at hand.
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Karine Coll
France
1973
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