PhotoNOLA is proud to present Freeman’s Hands by Timothy Duffy, as our 2021 Collectors Club Print.
Many of the musicians I photograph are not famous. In fact, most of them were not easy to find. Primarily, they are senior African American roots musicians born of the South. Their ancestors were among the earliest to arrive to our country and many claim a fair portion of native blood. They have some of the deepest roots in this country, but their America was certainly not the land of the free. Plenty of bravery was required of them, and despite their ancestral culture being oppressed and forbidden for centuries, the succeeding generations rose up singing.
As individuals and artists, their experiences are wide-ranging and varied. The broad diversity of their musical styles and content reflect this variety of experience. As performers, they use all of the tools at their disposal: instruments, vocals, words, rhythms, body movements, clothes and hair styles to communicate their uniqueness. They want you to know they are sophisticated and unpretentious, worldly and rural, down to earth and soaring with the stars. Mostly, they are keenly aware of the treasure of music they inherited from the elders who taught them and feel duty-bound to pass it on to the next generation. Knowing the camera lens is a conduit to the audience of posterity, they continue to open their homes to me and come to my studio, submitting to long photographic sessions in order to deliver the goods.
The cultural goods they carry straddle three centuries of American life: the agrarian world of the nineteenth century, industrialization of the twentieth, and technology of this new digital millennium. As do the photographic processes I use to present them here. The past is complicated for Americans but the struggle cannot be eradicated by averting our eyes from it. That we are suspended in time when viewing these portraits dares us to reckon with our past and present in terms of racial equity and societal progress. I intend that this work honor the significant contributions these creative, resourceful and hard-working people have made throughout these three centuries and continue to make today.
Price: $100 + $7 shipping & handling*
Also available, Timothy Duffy’s book, Hanging Tree Guitars: Freeman Vines,
In Duffy’s statement for his book he explains;
“to meet Freeman Vines is to meet America itself. An artist, a luthier and a spiritual philosopher, Vines’ life is a roadmap of the truths and contradictions of the American South. He remembers the hidden histories of the eastern North Carolina land on which his family has lived since enslavement. For over 50 years Vines has transformed materials culled from a forgotten landscape in his relentless pursuit of building a guitar capable of producing a singular tone that has haunted his dreams. From tobacco barns, mule troughs, and radio parts he has created hand-carved guitars, each instrument seasoned down to the grain by the echoes of its past life. In 2015 Vines befriends photographer Timothy Duffy and the two begin to document the guitars, setting off a mutual outpouring of the creative spirit. But when Vines acquires a mysterious stack of wood from the site of a lynching, Vines and Duffy find themselves each grappling with the spiritual unrest and the psychic toll of racial violence living in the very grain of America.”
Price: $32.93 + $7 shipping & handling*
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Timothy Duffy is a renowned photographer and founder of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Timothy has been recording and photographing traditional artists in the South since the age of 16, when he became interested in ethnomusicology. After earning a BA from Friends World College and MA from the Curriculum in Folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Timothy and his wife Denise founded Music Maker Relief Foundation in 1994 to assist traditional musicians in need
As a photographer he edited and took many photographs for Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America, and was the sole photographer for the nationally touring exhibitions: We Are the Music Makers! & Our Living Past. Both exhibits received support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Timothy Duffy’s photographs were published by 21st Editions in a monograph entitled BLUE in 2017 — followed by a monograph published by UNC Press in association with the New Orleans Museum of Art entitled Blue Muse: Timothy Duffy’s Southern Photographs in 2019. Works from Blue Muse premiered in a solo exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art in April 2019. His current project is Hanging Tree Guitars, a collaboration with sculptor and spiritual philosopher Freeman Vines, containing Timothy’s photography coupled with Vine’s philosophy.. Timothy’s work has been featured in TIME Lightbox as well as the NY Times LENS Blog.
Duffy’s photographs are in permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, National Museum of African American History and Culture, the New Orleans Museum of Art, Northwestern University, University of Minnesota, the Morris Museum of Art, Yale University Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
“ …Duffy’s images have a timeless quality. One has to look hard for clues that bely their vintage appearance, if any are to be found at all. The lengthy process of making a tintype means Duffy might work all day for just four or five shots, greatly increasing the level of attention devoted to each one…Because there is no photographic negative with tintypes—the tintype itself is the source material—Duffy was, until recently, limited in his ability to exhibit the work. But a chance meeting with Steven Albahari, the publisher of literary art bookmakers 21st Editions, led to a partnership that will allow the images not only to be duplicated, but to be printed in an unusually beautiful photographic process…Because the platinum palladium process allows for one of the broadest tonal ranges in photographic printing, the end result seems to glow, its subject almost jarringly proximate. The ink becomes ingrained in the paper, rather than sitting on top of it, allowing for a depth uncharacteristic of the medium…Taj Mahal, a Grammy-winning blues musician who has known Duffy for more than two decades and recently posed for a tintype, credits Duffy’s work not just for its rich aesthetic quality, but for his genuine respect and affection for his subjects. ‘So many photographs of older bluesmen or African-Americans are more voyeuristic, as opposed to the energy of the people—what they do, what it is they’re into—coming across in the photograph,’ he tells TIME. But Duffy ‘never treads on people’s dignity.’”
* Please note that shipping on international orders will be calculated on an individual basis.