“Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm” Exhibit at CDS

"Flying Cloud Farm," from Ken Abbott's "Useful Work: Hickory Nut Gap Farm"

Photograph by Ken Abbott, from the traveling exhibition and book “Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm”

A new exhibition at the Center for Documentary Studies features thirty-eight color images by Ken Abbott, who photographed Hickory Nut Gap Farm over a period of five years. The site in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina includes an old inn—the “Big House”—and surrounding property, where five generations of one family have lived and worked the land. Abbott will visit CDS on August 18 for a reception and artists’ talk; he will also be signing copies of a book by the same name. Scroll down to see photos from the exhibit.

Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm
June 2–September 10, 2016
Thursday, August 18, 6–9 p.m.: Reception, Artist’s Talk, and Book Signing 
Center for Documentary Studies
1317 W. Pettigrew St., Durham, North Carolina

On a honeymoon trip to the mountains of western North Carolina in 1916, Elizabeth and Jim McClure visited a place then known as Sherrill’s Inn; they were so captivated by the site that they purchased the inn and surrounding land, which they rechristened Hickory Nut Gap Farm. A hundred years and five generations of McClures later, the “Big House” and property remains a vibrant home, farm, and community hub.

Photographer Ken Abbott first visited in 2004 on his daughter’s class field trip and was as taken with the site as the McClures had been decades earlier—“It was a beautiful setting, rich in lore, and I looked forward to coming back with my camera.” The photographs that Abbot took on many subsequent visits between 2004 and 2009 are featured in the traveling exhibition and book Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm. Thirty-eight color images selected for the exhibition document the objects and actions of day-to-day life at the Big House and land, and illustrate what Abbott describes as one of the great lessons of his time there: “that we should honor beauty and our past and reach for intimacy with our given place.”

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    1. […] “Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm” – Thursday-September 10 – This traveling exhibit opens Thursday at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University featuring photographer Ken Abbott’s images of Hickory Nut Gap Farm, where five generations have lived and worked the land in the Blue Ridge Mountains. […]

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