NASHVILLE, TN.- Opening July 11 and on display until September 20, photographer Easton Selby’s exhibition Root Work is directly influenced by the spectrum of religious belief systems, mysticism, and magic that creep below the surface of Southern soil.
For Selby, the word “roots” brings to mind a number of deeper meanings: the roots of giant live oaks lining Southern boulevards, the roots of family heritage, the roots of religion giving stability and nourishment to believers. The exhibit title plays on the term “rootwork,” a form of black magic conjured by Hoodoo root doctors for a variety of reasons, from healing the spirit to bringing harm to those who have themselves done harm.
“Root Work” consists of wax-covered photographs that focus primarily on Southern archetypal imagery, folklore, and the creation of the artist’s own religion and the deconstruction of self through the conjuring of “roots.”
Born in 1979 and raised in central Mississippi, Selby grew up in a house of five people with an even larger extended family of storytellers, artists, and musicians. In 2003 he completed his B.F.A. in photography at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, and in 2006 he graduated with a M.F.A. degree in Visual Arts from Clemson University where he studied under photographer Sam Wang.
Art has always been a part of Selby’s life starting with summer art lessons from his grandmother, a painter and high school art educator, in Vicksburg, MS. It wasn’t until college that he discovered photography. At the advice of his uncle, who was a commercial photographer, Selby took a photography course and fell in love with the medium.
His current work centers around themes of religion, Southern folklore, and myth.
He resides in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where he holds an assistant professor position and is starting a photography program at Coastal Carolina University. Before moving to South Carolina, Selby taught as an adjunct professor at Lipscomb University, Belmont University, and Cumberland University.