These photographs were made in 1982 for the book “Flannery O’Connor: Images of Grace” with writer Harold Fickett.
Flannery O’Connor was a novelist, essayist, and short story writer who lived almost her entire life in central Georgia. Her works have grown in popularity since her death in 1964 at the age of 39. She is now regarded as one of the great American writers. O’Connor’s stories are set in a relatively small area around where she lived in Milledgeville, where these photographs were made.
I’ve chosen to present a group of photographs which carry an emotional tone that is one of the strongest sensations I experienced doing them: menace. My perception is colored by a summer in 1965 in the south where I worked in Georgia and Alabama photographing the civil rights struggle for LOOK Magazine. Thinly veiled threats, tapped telephones and difficulty knowing who I could trust as experienced every day has left me with a mistrust of many aspects of southern life which marks my photographs made in the south today.
Yet there is correspondence between some of my feelings and O’Connor’s characters and landscape, as many of them are largely drawn and referred to by many readers and critics as “grotesque”. But I do not intend to color her figures with my sense of menace. These photographs are my personal response to what I experienced there.