Southern Perspective: photographs by Kory Jean Kingsley

This past week at Blue Sky Gallery, I have displayed some prints from my most recent series titled “To Be Here,” on the “No Strings” wall, a weekly non-juried opportunity.

I’ve just recently moved to Portland to pursue my career as a photographer.  I’ve spent the last four years living in Savannah, Georgia where I received my B.F.A. in Photography and Printmaking from the Savannah College of Art and Design in May. Primarily using medium format film, I strive to document subjects that influence my personal life.

During my time in Georgia, I developed a connection with the local people and culture of the Southeast. Soon after I started living in Savannah I became more aware of the fact that the community that I was apart of was deeply rooted in African American history. From there I began exploring my relationship with the surrounding residents (usually men) by taking their photographs. I found that the photos came more naturally with men because often women wanted their portraits to be staged and anticipated. I quickly befriended these men and gained their trust by explaining my motives as a photographer. When photographing for the series, I would visit the local basketball court and stay after dark to photograph the players and share some laughs when they joked around. Just around the corner from my apartment there was a house where groups of families would sit outside and visit with one another, warmly welcoming me as I passed by. Occasionally, I would stop by the local barber shop “Jazzy Cutz,” and exchange stories with the barbers, or step out my front door and see smiling children playing near the street. These places are where I found companionship and trust when I was taking photos. After leaving Georgia, I feel fulfilled knowing that I created these bonds with many people for whom Savannah is home. 

Along with interning at Blue Sky Gallery this fall, I’m an editor for Aint-Bad Magazine, a bi-annual publication that focuses on contemporary photography. I’ve exhibited my work at various venues in the United States and internationally, including in Egypt and Southern France. In the future I hope to pursue many similar projects and to become an educator.

- Kory Jean Kingsley