West, Bruce

Bruce West, Springfield, USA

Bruce West is a professor of photography at Missouri State University. His photographs have appeared in numerous exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe and are included in museum collections such as The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, The Library of Congress, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, The Museum Ludwig, and The Victoria and Albert Museum. West has received numerous awards for his photographic work including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation for the Arts, and the Polaroid Corporation. In 2014, The University Press of Mississippi released The True Gospel Preached Here featuring 70 of West’s color photographs documenting the spiritual and creative work of Reverend H. D. and Margaret Dennis of Vicksburg, MS. Other publications include American Photography 14; The Next Generation: Contemporary Expressions of Faith; and For, From, About James T. Whitehead: Poems, Stories, Photographs, and Recollections.

Photographing Mississippi

Bruce West: Mrs LV Hull ms, #3, C-Print 2000, 44 x 36,2 cm, open edition

"I am a photographer residing in Springfield, Missouri. Since 1994, I have been pursuing an ongoing project documenting the rural landscape and culture of the Mississippi Delta and surrounding regions. Through my long-term commitment to photographing in Mississippi, I have produced two series of work entitled Take Time to Appreciate and Spiritual Advisor to the World. Both bodies of work are motivated by a personal need to confront questions regarding race, class, prejudice, and spirituality in the United States. While documenting my personal relationship with the Mississippi landscape and its inhabitants, my photographs ultimately function as an exploration of a culture that is rapidly and irrevocably disappearing. In Take Time to Appreciate, I combine simple and direct portraits with images of landscape and architecture to evoke the spirit and quality of daily life in the Delta. My images celebrate spiritual awareness, simplicity of lifestyle, and an intimate connection with one’s environment. The title for this series comes from a hand-painted sign by folk-artist, Mrs. L.V. Hull, and speaks of my primary objective as a photographer. My second series of photographs deals exclusively with Reverend H.D. Dennis, a self-proclaimed preacher, and his transformation of his wife’s grocery store into his own, one-of-a-kind, non-denominational church. This body of work serves as a meditation on creativity, the process of growing older, and the rigors, torments, and joys of the life of an ascetic. In his list of the ten most significant architectural sites in the South, noted American architect and MacArthur fellow, Samuel Mockbee, describes Margaret’s Grocery: “Built by Reverend H.D. Dennis, its crude materials and methods of construction place it in an ethereal state of being and perpetual sense of beauty”. Bruce West 2007-02

Collections

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art
The Library of Congress
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England                           
The Museum Ludwig, Koln, Germany
Munchner Stadtmuseum, Munich, Germany            
Musee de la Photographie a Charleroi, Charleroi, Belgium
Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark
Centro Internationale di Fotografia Scavi Scaligeri, Verona, Italy
The Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
The Mississippi Art Museum, Jackson, Mississippi            
The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland            
New Mexico Museum of Art, Sante Fe, New Mexico
Museum of Fine Arts, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Paine-Webber Corporation, New York, New York
A.G. Edwards and Sons, Inc; St. Louis, Missouri
The Sprint Corporation, Kansas City, Missouri                                                             
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
The Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, Missouri                          
St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri
The Albrecht-Kemper Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri
Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri
The Plaster Student Union, Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri
The Antonio Racela, Jr. Collection, Kansas City, Missouri
John Shubin Collection, Miami Beach, Florida

books

The True Gospel Preached Here, The University of Mississippi Press, 2014
For From About  James T. Whitehead Poems, Stories, Photographs, and Recollections, Michael Burns, Moon City Press, 2009
The Four Dog Blues Band, or How Chester, Boy, Dog in the Fog, and Diva Took the Big City by Storm  (Mississippi Museum of Art), 2007
The Next Generation: Contemporary Expressions of Faith, Patricia C. Pongracz and Wayne Roosa, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co; 2005
American Photography 14, Amilus Publishers, 1998

Links

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