Our Living Past: A Portrait of Music Maker

Chan Gallery
April 23 – July 2, 2017

For 35 years, photographer Tim Duffy has immortalized Southern musical heroes and the world in which they live – not only through the photographs he takes, but also through his Music Maker Relief Foundation, which promotes and supports the enduring tradition of Southern roots music.

Duffy’s non-profit organization was founded in 1994 to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. Since its inception, the Foundation has assisted and partnered with over 300 artists, issued over 150 CDs and reached over a million people with live performances in over 40 states and 17 countries around the globe.

Our Living Past celebrates the distinctive sounds of Southern roots music through 25 iconic images of living blues, gospel, soul and bluegrass musicians. Duffy’s images of artists like Freeman Vines, Taj Mahal, Ironing Board Sam, Lena Mae Perry, John Dee Holeman and Huntsville’s own Ardie Dean, capture a sense of timelessness that is appropriate to the subjects. The images are made with the distinctive wet-plate collodion process – an early photographic method that includes tintypes. They are printed using the platinum/palladium process, which provides the greatest tonal range of any photographic printing method using chemical development.

For the display in Huntsville, Duffy’s images will be supplemented by a hand-selected array of related materials including musical instruments and ephemera directly tied to the artists on view. These include Captain Luke’s painted guitar case, Ironing Board Sam’s gold keyboard, Dom Flemon’s rhythm bones, and Ardie Dean’s hand decorated suit.