Over the course of the last six years and dozens of trips to Appalachia, I’ve been making photographs. The work is complete and I plan to create a limited-edition photobook of this project, but I need your help to make this goal a reality.
Testify is a visual love letter to Appalachia, the land of my blood. This is my testimony of how I came to see the importance of home and my connection to place. After moving away as a teenager, I’ve struggled to return, to latch on to something from my memory. These images are a vignette into my working through the problem of the construction of memory versus reality. My work embraces the raw beauty of the mountains while keeping at arms length the stereotypical images that have tried to define Appalachia for decades.
I am both an insider and an outsider and I maintain a safe distance through my photography. I’m inviting you into the intimacy of family, of sacred space. Testify is my bearing witness of this personal journey, to seek answers from my ancestral home.
My grandfather told me that I have two ears and one mouth, which means that I should listen twice as often as I speak. With these photographs, I’ve tried to do just that. These images arise out of pride of where I am from and where I am of, and an enduring love for Appalachia.
About the book
Testify, a fine press photography book project will be designed and produced by Horse & Buggy Press in collaboration with photographer Roger May who has been making photographs in and around his homeplace of West Virginia and Kentucky over the last six years. The project will result in a pair of 36 page books, each with heavyweight archival paper and printed on an Indigo press in full color, hand-printed letterpress covers, and a binding hand-sewn with linen thread. The books will be presented together with a wrap around letterpress printed bellyband. Additionally, a 5 x 7 print will accompany the books, and each of these limited edition copies will numbered and signed by the artist.
The book will open with an introduction by Appalachian author Silas House, director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, and author of five novels including The Coal Tattoo and Eli the Good.
The funds from this campaign will be used for art direction, design, typesetting, production coordination, paper, printing, and binding for 200 books. However, the more money we raise, the more books we can produce. The books will be available for purchase from the artist at rogermayphotography.com and through Horse & Buggy Press.
Praise for Testify
A prodigal son returns to his boyhood home in West Virginia and begins a process of discovery. What has he missed while away? What does he see from this “not from around here” perspective? Testify, Roger May’s photographic journey, will resonate with those of us who have never left our home places and serve as a powerful reminder of why we return. Rob Amberg, photographer
Over the last few years, I've come to appreciate the beauty and strength of Roger's quiet, understated photos. Their power has its roots in his love for the people and landscapes of Appalachia and his deep understanding of the region's history. John Edwin Mason, University of Virginia
It was such a pleasure to work side-by-side with Roger in McDowell County, West Virginia. His approach to 'making' photographs and sensitivity to folk shows how deeply passionate he is about the region we call home and its culture and heritage. His work has the power to carry a witness into a place, where mood and feeling seem suspended in time. Elaine McMillion, director of Hollow
Testify is a measured and honest documentation of Appalachia. His photographs tell a story in which family, industry, memory, erasure, and loss play equal parts. Jeff Rich, photographer
Risks and challenges
I've funded this work myself for the last six years. I've seen the project evolve with help from many of my friends and family and I'm ready to meet any challenges that may arise. Every effort will be made to deliver your rewards by September 2013, but please understand if unforeseen circumstances arise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)