An extemporaneous talk at the Art Institute of Chicago, October 1970
I hope you will permit me to sit down, I don't feel comfortable standing up. Like water, I always try to find the lowest level of things. It wouldn't be my style if I really knew what I was going to tell you. I discovered a long time ago that it isn't my style to be comfortable within things that I know.
My pictures are made as a part of everyday life and are not the result of any project or assignment. Most of the pictures here were made with a 4 x 5 camera on a tripod. In this situation both the sitter and the photographer look at each other, and what they both see and feel is a part of the picture. Sometimes my photographs resemble home snapshots.
Preface by Jonathan Williams Introduction by John Jacob Niles. Penland, North Carolina 1971. The Jargon Society, 64 reproductions, 8 7/8 x 11 1/4 inches. Distributed by Small Publishers’ Company, Millerton, New York. $10.00 Roll, Jordan, Roll Text by Julia Peterkin.
How extraordinary these simple portraits are, these dignified half-lengths, so artfully posed and lit. How deeply they seem to penetrate into the innermost souls of the simple mountain people they depict. And how strange to think that they could have been made by an aging invalid lady from New York, who had jolted about the rural South on the execrable roads of the early 1930s in an oversize Lincoln sedan piled to the roof with food, equipment and clothes. She was a rich amateur of talent and devotion, one of that rare breed that figures so largely in the history of photography, and of course she did not have to do it.
Emmet Gowin. Born, Danville, Virginia, December 1941. Studied with Harry Callahan, 1965 -1967. Presently teaching at Dayton Art Institute. Nathan Lyons. Director, Visual Studies Workshop; Professor of Photographic Studies, The University of the State of New York at Buffalo.