Sally Mann was a name that I heard tossed around a bit in school and was only aware of the contreversy that surrounded her images. A few of the other students who were in art school (where I was taking some classes but not matriculated) started to put their judgments ahead of their willingness to appreciate the process and production of art as art. They would cast off Mann with some previously invisible strokes of conservatism that I thought would have been set aside for the sake of art. I had not seen any of her images until I watched the documentary What Remains. I was in utter awe of her images and actually proud to be another Southern photographer. Fast forward, I hear from my girlfriend that she was just given the DVD and the book as a gift. I was enthralled by the book as I saw elements of the organic nature of things that I so often try to grab in my own photography.
Anyways, she's unbelievable and you must flip through some books at Strand or wherever else you may peruse through photography. She has had several shows and released several books. Among the both of these are Second Sight, At Twelve: Portraits of Young Women, Immediate Family, Still Time, Sally Mann – Mother Land: Recent Landscapes of Georgia and Virginia, Deep South: Landscapes of Louisiana and Mississippi, What Remains, and Deep South.
She is the recipient of a number of awards, including three National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and a Guggenheim Memorial fellowship. She has permanent colletions of a number of notable galleries around the US. You read more about the What Remains show that premiered at the Corcoran gallery in DC here: http://www.corcoran.org/exhibitions/previous_results.asp?Exhib_ID=83
Her photos cover elements of motherhood, youth, landscapes, the South, death, time, humanity, and even reflects on the photographic process itself. She has worked in a number of styles of photography, probably the most notable being the wet plate/collodion process. The process was utilized by Civil War photographers like Alexander Gardner and others. While many of us may be concerned about the decline of analog photography and the materials required for it, Mann has shown her commitment to the preservation of a rather unique and important process.
Well, basically she's rad and I have enjoyed having to flip through more of images in order to write this.
photo courtesy of sallymann.org