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American Ballads: The Photographs of Marty Stuart special exhibit

August 1 – January 2020

Although known primarily as a country music star, Marty Stuart (b. 1958) is a master storyteller not only through his songs, but also through his revealing photographs. He has been taking photographs of the people and places surrounding him since he first went on tour with bluegrass performer Lester Flatt at age 13. His inspirations include his mother, Hilda Stuart and her documentation of their family’s everyday life in Mississippi. He also admires bassist Milt Hinton’s photographs of fellow jazz artists and Edward Curtis’s well-known images of Native Americans at the turn of the 20th century. Stuart’s photographs in American Ballads range from intimate behind-the-scenes depictions of legendary musicians, to images of eccentric characters from the back roads of America, to dignified portraits of members of the impoverished Lakota tribe in South Dakota, a people he was introduced to by his former father-in-law, Johnny Cash. Whatever the subject, Stuart is able to tease out something unexpected or hidden beneath the surface through a skillful sense of timing and composition, as well as a unique relationship with the sitters often based on years of friendship and trust.