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Sheron Rupp: The faces of rural America

Sheron Rupp: The faces of rural America

To create her book Taken From Memory, the American photographer immersed herself in the life of the American countryside, from Arkansas to Vermont, to Kentucky… She took a photographic road-trip to meet the residents of these isolated regions.

Millersburg, Ohio, 1984 © Sheron Rupp

In the late 1940s, as a little girl, Sheron Rupp travelled with her father to a remote part of Arkansas, to a small farm that belonged to her grandparents. She remembers this trip as if it were yesterday. More importantly, her memory is integral to this photographic project, which she took twenty-five years to carry out. “I remember the dark outhouse, to which my sister and I walked barefoot at night; the chickens that ran loose in the yard and which often ended up on the supper table. . .,” she wrote in the Preface to her book. It was scenes like these that she was looking for, and sometimes found, on the journey undertaken years later, as she set out across the South of the United States with her camera. Sheron Rupp traveled to far-off places, remote homesteads where the rhythm of life is different than in cities, and she hunted scenes that reminded her of her childhood adventure. 

Bucyrus, Ohio, 1984 © Sheron Rupp


It is the intention of the photographic book project Taken From Memory to give us a clear picture of the everyday life of rural Americans: family life spills onto the porch of a wooden bungalow; three sisters pose proudly against a split-rail fence; a middle-aged woman cheerfully eyes the lens, hands on her hips, and seems to celebrate a life filled with chores and sacrifices, but also in communion with nature. The central place of plants in the life of rural residents is immediately striking in Sheron Rupp’s photographs. The book’s cover is a perfect example: an elderly African American woman in her Sunday’s best, seen from the back, is making her way across a field of giant sunflowers. Flowers, animals—like that peacock posing in tandem with a teenage girl—populate every picture and, one is inclined to think, might just be enough to want to live there, away from the busy world.

Trudy in Annie’s Sunflower Maze, Amherst, Massachusetts, 2000 © Sheron Rupp

North Lake Park, Mansfield, Ohio, 2001 © Sheron Rupp

Elkins, Arkansas, 1987 © Sheron Rupp

Kingwood Center, Mansfield, Ohio, 2001 © Sheron Rupp

Jean, Huntsville, Arkansas, 1987 © Sheron Rupp

Marietta, Ohio, 1985 © Sheron Rupp

By Jean-Baptiste Gauvin

Sheron Rupp, Taken From Memory

text by Peter Galassi / Kehrer

€39.90 / £35.00 / $50.00

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