Had you ever been to Mississippi before? Was it similar to anything you had seen before or different?
It was my first trip to Mississippi. I had photographed in some small towns in Alabama prior to visiting Mound Bayou; however, those towns were segregated — unlike Mound Bayou, there were no black town officials, no black police officers, and if there were black-owned businesses, they were in the black part of town.
Visiting Mound Bayou for the first time, I was completely unprepared for the intensity of the emotional experience of being welcomed and embraced by a culture so different than my own. I recall one moment when Ellie, the woman whom I first met at Smitty’s, suddenly turned to me, reached up and put her two hands on either side of my head and said, “I ain’t never touched the hair of a white man before.” Needless to say, as a young, white kid from Cambridge, Mass., I was stunned and deeply moved.
Link to read the rest of the Q&A with Jim Estrin and see the complete Mound Bayou slide show:
ALEX’S PHOTOGRAPHS FROM INDIA’S KUMBH MELA IN FEBRUARY 2014 ISSUE:
UPCOMING WORKSHOPS, EXHIBITIONS, AND TALKS WITH ALEX AND REBECCA:
——Saturday May 3 thru Friday May 10, FINDING YOUR VISION, NEW YORK. A few spots left in this annual workshop. For more information including how to enroll, please visit:
——Friday, Dec. 13 thru Feb. 22, 2014: BEFORE THE SHIFT: The Early Black-and-White Work of Alex Webb, Lynne Cohen, Martin Parr, and Stephen Shore at at the Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago; opening reception with Alex, Friday, Dec. 13, 5:30-8pm:
or a ship
A black bough flies into the night.
Now even the snow
is the shadow of an owl.
—Rebecca Norris Webb, from “A Field Guide to Silence”