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The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams’ Appalachia

November 16, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Before the film, make sure to explore BRAHM’s brand new exhibition Comic Stripped: A Revealing Look at Southern Stereotypes in Cartoons (November 11, 2017-March 17, 2018).

Also, be sure to pick up your ticket early, and take it to Bistro Roca for 10% of your meal before the film!

An audience favorite at Sundance, The True Meaning of Pictures is an introduction to the work of photographer Shelby Lee Adams. Born in Eastern Kentucky, Adams has devoted 30 years of his life to visiting and making portraits of families living in Appalachia, those who have been misrepresented in the media and derogatorily referred to as “hillbillies.”

A provocative exploration of Appalachian life, The True Meaning of Pictures also delves into the controversy that surrounds Adams’ work, with hot debate amongst the critics, and revealing commentary from his friends and subjects. It makes us question the meaning of art itself, and along the way we get to know both Adams and the extraordinary people who stand in front of his camera.

To lead a discussion about the film, we will be joined by renowned documentary photographer Ralph Burns. Burns has long been recognized as a photographer whose images have captured the diverse and enigmatic nature of ritual and religion, and who has explored the subjective and often defining nature of belief, worship, and culture. Like his predecessors, such as Walker Evans, Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark, and Robert Frank, Burns uses his cameras to probe a constantly shifting human landscape and to document the public and private aspects of culture and religion in transition, often working at the unclear and overlapping intersection of both.

A native of Louisiana and a resident of Asheville since 1975, Burns has travelled great distances to photograph a specific event or religious festival. He has photographed in New Orleans, Asheville and Western North Carolina, the American South, Mexico, Cuba, Israel, England, Thailand, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Europe. Burns is recognized both nationally and internationally, exhibiting his photographs in museums worldwide. In 2016, BRAHM exhibited Ralph Burns: A Persistence of Vision – Photographs 1972-2013.



“Without passing judgment, [Baichwal] develops an extraordinary perspective, both moral and aesthetic.” – Brian D. Johnson, Macleans magazine

“Baichwal gives us a provocative look at the way meaning is created in the mind of the viewer.” – John Harkness, NOW magazine

“Unlike most bio-documentaries, Baichwal explores her subject with integrity, guts and a critical eye.” – Take one, Film & Television in Canada

Movies at the Museum features films by North Carolina filmmakers, films about the arts, and about the history and culture of the Appalachian region. Complimentary popcorn will be provided, and the film will be followed by a discussion facilitated by a special guest speaker.

Movies at the Museum is sponsored by Bistro Roca.


November 16, 2017
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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Blowing Rock Art & History Museum
159 Chestnut St.
Blowing Rock, NC 28605
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