NEW YORK, NY.-
For over 170 years, the fair has been the bedrock of American communities across the country. Generally held in the late summer or early fall on the outskirts of town, the fair was originally a meeting place for farmers to promote local agriculture. In the 20th century, as America shifted from an agrarian to an urban society, the fair expanded dramatically to include a wealth of family focused fun and entertainment, from carnival amusement rides, games, and side shows to car racing, concession stands, and musical concerts.
During the summer of 2015, American photographer Pamela Littky traveled across the U.S. to capture the sites of these important seasonal markers in America's heartland. What she discovered is that the essence of the American fair has not changed very much over the past century. While the social and cultural fabric of the United States has evolved considerably, the fairs continue to draw millions of people yearly from different backgrounds and upbringings who seek a place near their homes where community is celebrated in all its diversity, along with elements of a culture that recalls some of the most nostalgic ideals of America.
The results of Littky's road trips are published for the first time in American Fair
, (Kehrer Verlag, March 13, 2018), a breathtaking collection of photographs where wistful reflections on the past meet the challenging realities of American life in the 21st century. Idyllic portraits of farmers and rope-and-ride spectators are shown alongside tableaux that evoke undertones of apprehension and uncertainty. Elderly faces that have seen many seasons of the fair are interspersed with images of youth who project determination or innocence underneath adolescent postures.
Littky has spent most of her adult life in Los Angeles which she describes as a city which has many things going for it, including the almost perfect weather. The one thing she found lacking in her adopted home is a true sense of community. During this period when America seems to dwell more on what divides the nation than what binds it, Littky sought to use her craft as a photographer to embrace the common traditions that are still going strong and that connect us on the most basic human level.
Littly's travels took her to towns and cities in over fifteen states: Indianapolis, IN, Dodge City, KS, Cimarron, KS, Sedalia, MO, Jackson, MS, Sarasota, FL, Miami, FL, Springfield, IL, Gordon, NE, Hampton, GA, Ventura, CA, Greenup, IL, Cheyenne, WY, Lebanon, TN, Live Oak, FL, Selma, AL, Coldwater, KS, Great Falls, MT, Garden City, KS, Pomona, CA, Ness City, KS, Calhan, CO, Bladen, NE, Del Mar, CA, Palatka, FL, and Little Rock, AR.
Los Angeles based photographer Pamela Littky has been producing award-winning, iconic images of high profile personalities for over fifteen years. Spontaneous and disarming, intimate and unpretentious, her portraits capture well-known subjects in seemingly unguarded moments. Littky's unique relationship to her subjects and sense of humor has left an indelible imprint on her work. In between shoots of world-famous actors and musicians for top commercial and editorial clients, Littky pursues personal projects that show a decidedly less glamorous but equally compelling side of American culture. Her work has been shown in various exhibitions around the world.
American Fair is Littky's third monograph. Her first monograph, Vacancy (Kehrer Verlag, 2014) is about the communities in two small towns located at opposite sides of the Mojave Desert. Her second book, the Villa Bonita, with a foreword by Cameron Crowe (Kehrer Verlag, 2016), is a portrait of the legendary apartment complex and its residents in the heart of Hollywood. Littky's work has been published in many noted publications, including The New York Times, Vogue, The Los Angeles Times, Slate, The Telegraph, Photo District News, Newsweek, Hyperallergic, Mother Jones, and LA Review of Books, among others.