In Bare Handed, artist Holly Lynton presents a nuanced portrait of rural life in 21st-century America. Returning to specific communities year after year, Lynton moves beyond mythology to reveal a complex social landscape suffused with tradition but unburdened by nostalgia. The 85 gestural portraits and visceral landscapes in her debut monograph depict people working barehanded in tandem with their environments, using tools mostly replaced by mechanization. This decade-long series goes far beyond the yields of a harvest to celebrate an almost spiritual state of being that emerges from time-honored practice and underscores a commitment to unmediated experiences with the natural world. “Lynton’s spellbinding color photographs convey an elemental connection to animals, the earth, and ritualized agricultural practices. The imposing, often tense physicality of the men, women, and animals and the dramatic lighting turn barns and compost heaps into stages for conflict, surrender, and transfiguration” (The Boston Globe). Lynton’s keen attention to cultural visual memory is further contextualized in original poetry and essays by art historians Terence Washington and Carl Fuldner.
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