ExhibitionsTruth Told Slant: Contemporary Photography
Current Exhibition

Truth Told Slant: Contemporary Photography

March 1 – August 11, 2024

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Truth Told Slant examines a recent shift in how photographers have taken on the challenge of making meaningful images of the world around them. Rather than using the traditional documentary approach of dispassionate observation, they work in a stylistically expressive manner akin to literary nonfiction, weaving between observational and narrative modes while embracing their own subjectivity.

The title of this exhibition, which is inspired by an Emily Dickinson poem, accentuates the sidelong and deeply personal approach these artists use to make sense of the current social and political landscape. The five artists gathered here—Jill Frank, Rose Marie Cromwell, Zora J Murff, Kristine Potter, and Tommy Kha—consider issues that documentary photographers have grappled with for decades and that remain pertinent today. They explore topics of American life, such as race and inequality; identity and sexual orientation; immigration and globalization; youth and coming of age; climate change and environmental justice; and the pervasiveness of violence, to reveal deeper truths and reframe prevailing narratives in a manner that is more felt than didactic.

Tell the truth but tell it slant

Tell all the truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind— 

By Emily Dickinson


 

Jill Frank

Jill Frank’s portraits examine archetypes of youth, rites of passage, and the formation of identity. Her photographs complicate familiar rituals such as cotillion, talent shows, and homecoming dances, offering space to consider the nuance that is so often omitted from the tailored visual record of our lives. These events are often methodically recorded, making them seem trite and insignificant despite the personal weight they carry for those involved. By making meticulously rendered portraits of American youth during moments of celebration and triumph, Frank encourages a reconsideration of social roles and relations in teen life. The resulting photographs offer an uneasy sense of vulnerability and beauty. The scale and formality of her images emphasize a seriousness despite the inherent ephemerality of her subject’s performance and setting, reframing these moments as brave acts.

Talent Show, Crying while Kicking (Noelle), 2019

Jill Frank
American, born 1978
Talent Show, Crying while Kicking (Noelle), 2019
Dye coupler print
Courtesy of the artist

Cotillion, Boy with Bottle, 2022

Jill Frank
American, born 1978
Cotillion, Boy with Bottle, 2022
Dye coupler print
Courtesy of the artist

Cotillion Water Bottle Tts Small (1)

Rose Marie Cromwell

A More Fluid Atmosphere is Rose Marie Cromwell’s ongoing body of work about her hometown of Miami, a city literally and metaphorically at the edge of the United States. Her photographs present a vision of Miami distinct from its depiction in popular media as sleek and glamorous—one that concentrates on the city’s acute cultural syncretism amid economic inequalities, ostentatious excessiveness, and environmental precarity. She is particularly adept at channeling the materiality of her subjects to tell tangible though not readily visible stories about the city and its lesser-known industrial, residential, and commercial areas. Taking full advantage of the intense south Florida light, her photographs often verge on abstraction to express dreamlike states and a sense of disorientation in the face of globalization and the effects of climate change.

Junkyard, 2019

Rose Marie Cromwell
American, born 1984
Junkyard, 2019
Pigmented inkjet print
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Wanda Hopkins, 2023.106

The Nursery, 2017

Rose Marie Cromwell
American, born 1984
The Nursery, 2017
Pigmented inkjet print
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Wanda Hopkins, 2023.104

Zora J Murff

Zora J Murff employs autobiography as a form of social critique to examine notions of family, masculinity, and economic mobility. American Mother, American Father is a family album of sorts that takes on myths and stereotypes of the Black family juxtaposed with notions of the model American family. Incorporating photographs of his relatives, self-portraits, appropriated snapshots, and depictions of domestic settings, Murff reflects on how the identity we create for ourselves collides with the identity society foists upon us. He alludes to signs of financial success and social status to question how privilege and power are inextricable from prevailing conceptions of racial identity. Through this deeply personal engagement, he ruminates on the role photography plays in establishing and reinforcing stereotypes of Blackness in popular culture.

American Mother, 2019

Zora J Murff
American, born 1987
American Mother, 2019
Pigmented inkjet print
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from the Friends of Photography, 2021.109

The Reflection of Most Visible Wavelengths of Light, 2018

Zora J Murff
American, born 1987
The Reflection of Most Visible Wavelengths of Light, 2018
Pigmented inkjet print
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from the Friends of Photography, 2021.108

Kristine Potter

In Dark Water, Kristine Potter considers how the rural American landscape and the country’s popular music betray some of the most sublimated aspects of American identity: fear, shame, and violence. Spurred by murder ballads, a genre of folk song that often celebrates gendered violence, Potter weaves together landscapes, imagined portraits, and scenes she encounters in her travels. This intersection of images pulls from mythologies and folklore, revealing a land and a culture marked by brutality. Anchored by photographs of waterways with violent or ominous names, the series aims to make visual the connection between nature and myth. Potter pairs these waterscapes with portraits of young women soaked in water, imaginatively reanimating the victims of crimes valorized in song. Together, the shifting photographic languages compel the viewer to critically examine cultural mythologies and violent histories and their role in how we experience place and the possibilities for new outcomes.

Dark Water, 2019

Kristine Potter
American, born 1977
Dark Water, 2019
Gelatin silver print
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Wanda Hopkins, 2022.51

Knoxville Girl, 2016

Kristine Potter
American, born 1977
Knoxville Girl, 2016
Gelatin silver print
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Wanda Hopkins, 2022.52

Tommy Kha

Tommy Kha’s lilting photographs of his immediate and found families and his hometown of Memphis explore the intersections of personal identity, family history, and place. In South Portraits, Kha, a queer Asian American raised in the South, narrates the multiplicity of his identity. His mother and grandmother often appear as recurring characters in the form of fractional self-portraits to pose questions about what may be passed down from one generation to the next—culture, affectation, trauma? As the child of Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants, Kha considers the visibility and invisibility of immigrants in the United States. His images of Chinese restaurants, shrines, and kitschy interiors express feelings of dislocation to question how divergent identities fit into an evolving cultural landscape. Across these seemingly disparate scenes, his choice of subject and his deadpan compositions employ humor as a means of revealing the absurdity that underlies the ways people are othered.

May (Madonna Sans Child), in Four Acts, East Memphis, Tennessee, 2021

Tommy Kha
American, born 1988
May (Madonna Sans Child), in Four Acts, East Memphis, Tennessee, 2021
Pigmented inkjet print
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Charles Jing, 2023.349

The Small Guardian (Isle of Misfit Toys), The Shoals, Alabama, 2018

Tommy Kha
American, born 1988
The Small Guardian (Isle of Misfit Toys), The Shoals, Alabama, 2018
Pigmented inkjet print
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with funds from Charles Jing, 2023.350

This exhibition is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Premier Exhibition Series Sponsor 

Premier Exhibition Series Supporters

ACT Foundation, Inc.
William N. Banks, Jr.
Mr. Joseph H. Boland, Jr.
Cousins Foundation

Burton M. Gold
Sarah and Jim Kennedy 

Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporters 

Helen C. Griffith
Robin and Hilton Howell 
 

Ambassador Exhibition Series Supporters

Mrs. Fay S. Howell/The Howell Fund
Karen and Jeb Hughes/Corporate Environments
Loomis Charitable Foundation
The Fred and Rita Richman Fund
Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot
Mrs. Harriet H. Warren
Elizabeth and Chris Willett

Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters 

Farideh and Al Azadi 
Sandra and Dan Baldwin
Mr. and Mrs. Robin E. Delmer
Peggy Foreman
Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones
Joel Knox and Joan Marmo 
Margot and Danny McCaul 
Wade A. Rakes II and Nicholas Miller

Generous support is also provided by  

Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund , Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund , Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund, USI Insurance Services.