Debbie Fleming Caffery has long been recognized as one of the foremost photographers from the American South, but with major bodies of
work from Mexico, France, and across the United States, her career has long transcended its Southern roots. In each of the places where she has worked, Caffery has spent significant periods of time living and learning with the people she photographs. Caffery’s work emphasizes the deep emotional relationships between people and place, raises questions about social and economic structures, and explores a wide variety of human relationships and rituals.
In Caffery’s own words, this exhibition is “about that moment, in taking a photograph, when everything works…eyes, guts, heart, life experiences, [and] years of paying attention.” Through her characteristic combinations of rich shadows, dramatic lighting, and dizzying long exposures, Caffery’s photographs function as meditations on different aspects of human experience—faith, the dignity of labor, childhood, and the natural world, framed in ways that are both familiar and mysterious.
Installed across three distinct spaces at NOMA, “In Light of Everything” begins in the museum’s Great Hall, with a selection of the photographer’s most recent work. Here, visitors encounter Caffery’s large-scale portraits of birds in rehabilitation facilities in Louisiana, New Mexico, and France. Imbued with a gothic sensibility, these photographs reveal the birds to have great personality and demonstrate Caffery’s ongoing significance as a contemporary artist. In the Templeman Galleries on the museum’s second floor, visitors experience bodies of work that Caffery began in the 1970s and continued through the 2000s. These include pictures of sugar cane workers in and around Caffery’s home parish that vary between intimate portraits and intense landscapes, photographs made in small-town Mexico where the cultures of the Church and the cantina overlap, community-making and home life in rural Mississippi, and her most focused series: portraits of Caffery’s friend and muse Polly Joseph in her home. Finally, in the A. Charlotte Mann and Joshua Mann Pailet Gallery, Caffery’s photographs of churches and religious statuary in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita offer a reflection on hope and faith.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue of the same title, published by Radius Books.
“Debbie Fleming Caffery: In Light of Everything” is organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art and is supported by the Del and Ginger Hall Photography Fund, the Robert and Betty Fleming Family, James and Cherye Pierce, Milly and George Denegre, and the A. Charlotte Mann and Joshua Mann Pailet Endowment.
|Featured Artist or Artists:|
|Debbie Fleming Caffery|
|1 Collins C. Diboll Circle
New Orleans, Louisiana 70124
|Venue Phone Number:|
|Venue Operating Hours:|
|Tuesday–Sunday, 10 am–5 pm; Wednesdays, 12–7 pm|
|October 6, 2023–March 3, 2024|
|Physical Opening Date:|
|October 6, 2023|
|December 6, 12:30 pm
Brian Piper, NOMA’s Freeman Family Curator of Photographs, Prints, and Drawings, gives a gallery talk about “Debbie Fleming Caffrey: In Light of Everything.” This program is Included with museum admission; free for Louisiana residents on Wednesdays courtesy of The Helis Foundation.December 13, 12:30 pm
Brian Piper, NOMA’s Freeman Family Curator of Photographs, Prints, and Drawings, gives a gallery talk about “Debbie Fleming Caffrey: In Light of Everything.” This program is Included with museum admission; free for Louisiana residents on Wednesdays courtesy of The Helis Foundation.