For more than fifteen years, Jerry Siegel has been photographing southern artists. Following in the footsteps of his namesake uncle, Jerry Siegel–who was one of the earliest collectors and promoters of southern artists–the younger Siegel continually traces regional southern artistic talent back to its creators, whom he captures in portraits as emotionally affecting as they are visually striking.


Facing South: Portraits of Southern Artists reproduces, in both black-and-white and color, one hundred of these portraits of the artists that Siegel has worked with–potters, sculptures, and photographers. Facing South also includes two essays, one on the nature of photographic portraiture by Julian Cox and one on the regional countenance reflected in Siegel’s portraits by Dennis Harper. Brief biographies of the one hundred subjects are also included.


Facing South is a co-publication of The University of Alabama Press and the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University.


Jerry Siegel, a native of Selma, graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta. After twenty-nine years as a much-sought after commercial photographer in Atlanta, Siegel relocated to Birmingham where he continues to shoot for commercial clients while also pursuing his fine arts work, which also includes documenting the unique cultural landscape of the South, focusing on the Black Belt region as well as his ongoing series of portraits of southern artists. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in Atlanta, the Wiregrass Museum of Art in Dothan, and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art. A commissioned body of work for the Columbus Museum in Columbus, Georgia, was featured in the 2009 solo exhibition Now and Then, Snapshots of the South.


Julian Cox is chief curator of the de Young Museum, San Francisco, and has formerly served as curator of photography at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.


Dennis Harper is the curator of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University.


Marilyn Laufer, Ph.D., is director of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University and coauthor of Myths and Metaphors: The Art of Leo Twiggs.


“Jerry Siegel is a master of composition. He uses it in his photographs to create mini biographies, inviting us, gently, into the soul of his subjects.” –Leo Twiggs, Professor Emeritus of Art at South Carolina State University, an innovative batik artist, and first artist to receive the Verner Award (Governor’s Trophy) for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina


“Southerners are often accused of fabrication, certainly of embroidering the truth. Jerry Siegel’s remarkable portraits of some of our special storytellers, our visual artists, remind us of the tales they, too, tell in paint, in stone, and in pencil.” –William Eiland, director of the Georgia Museum of Art


About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.