Southern Routes at MOCA

A crossroads of cultures and the spirit of tall tales have come alive at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MOCA) Southern Routes in Virginia Beach. Opening May 12 with a private reception the prior evening, the exhibition is a current study of the American South through the camera lens, featuring the work of 10 photographers in a gallery depicting the heritage of common life, and how tradition has carried through the course of time to shape another generation’s identity in the region.

In Kate Medley’s Fratesi’s Service Station pickup trucks and their drivers make a pit stop so they can grab a bite, get a beer, tailgate and buy cigarettes and ammunition. Grant Ellis captures a portrait of a scar that graces a debutante’s face, a perfect imperfection as she sits in her gown, ready for the ball. Old Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, AL by Jerry Siegel is full on Southern Gothic, with the gravestones of the buried framed by its trees of hanging Spanish moss. A freight train rolls down the tracks beside a dusty road in another scene, on through to the next junction for the train yard, or perhaps not headed anywhere in particular. Fast food burger joints are the locations for an introspective look into the different walks of life in an exhibit riddled with themes of Americana.

Kelly Berry, Van Alstyne, Snow Cone Stand 2

Jerry Siegel, Old Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, AL

Viewers will find some of the most emblematic characteristics of the South steeped with the local lore and customs, doing so in a celebratory manner but also allowing commentary for a place bearing a troubled past. Southern Routes encompasses both the backgrounds and differences of its people and landscapes, the country roads to murky swamps, in a proud tribute and awareness of its history, shot by those with heartfelt ties to the South and curated for purposeful inclusion at MOCA as a reminder of Coastal Virginia’s own roots.

Southern Routes will run the length of the summer at MOCA through August 13.

Ryan Miller
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