We formed Due South because though our accents may vary, the five of us keep talking about the same thing — where we’re from.
Making work about the American South can be nuanced, complex, rewarding, and at times painful, and we believe those are all conversations worth having. Together we are reading the classics, writing in the margins, and pressing forward.
Ashleigh Coleman was born in the mountains of Virginia, reared in South Carolina, and for the last decade has lived in a rural Mississippi hamlet. Her graceful images showcase the complexities of the South by capturing the beauty and brutality of rural life.
With a degree in the History of Art from the University of South Carolina, Ashleigh’s art has been exhibited at shows across the United States, including her solo shows Runes at the Fischer Gallery in Jackson, Mississippi and Piece of Heart, at the University of Mississippi; as well as work shown at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Soho Photo Gallery and iloni Gallery in NYC, South × Southeast Gallery, and ArtSpace 86. Her photography has been published by Oxford American, Garden & Gun, and Okra. In 2017, TIME’s LightBox named her as one of its 51 Instagram Photographers to Follow in the U.S.
When the Mississippi River once flooded the banks of a ghost town, she kayaked to the site and waded through the waters to document the ruins of an abandoned church with her inherited Hasselblad.
Nurturing and inspirational, if this group has a conscience, it is Ashleigh.
Born into a family of Alabama coal miners, David McCarty now calls Jackson his home. In the ether of past and present, his use of instant film situates the image between the uncontrollable and precise. An inherent contradiction, David’s polaroids immortalize the forgotten.
David’s Polaroid work exhibited as part of Self-Processing — Instant Photography at the Ogden Museum, PhotoNOLA’s The Perpetual Instant, and AINT-BAD’s Instant Gratification. In 2015, he co-curated Best Before: Instant Photography by Southern Artists in Jackson, MS. His Polaroid diptych “Biloxi Hotel” is part of the Ogden’s permanent collection.
Ephemeral in their nature, David’s instant images are right at home on the pages of his newsprint publications — Dial 546, Population 1,181, Found on The Roadside Dead, and Electric City.
When David pulled over on the side of the road in Leake County, the ex-mayor rolled up, and an elderly woman across the way reported David as “a suspicious character.” The polaroid wasn’t even good, but David did get invited to church.
Passionate and protective, if this group has a heart, David is it.
Ellen Rodgers was born in the Mississippi Delta and grew up on the land her family has farmed for generations. Hasselblad in hand, Ellen builds a relationship with every person she meets — so that any portrait is more like a visit from a family member or an old friend.
Ellen attended the University of Mississippi and later earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in photography. In 2017, Fischer Galleries in Jackson, Mississippi, mounted a major exhibition of her meditations on her home, Images from the Delta. As part of its 50 States of Art project, Vice featured Ellen to represent Mississippi. Her photographs illustrated Studio Jackson: Creative Culture in the Mississippi Capital, from Acadia Publishing. Ellen’s silver gelatin work was featured at M2 Gallery in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Ellen was once nearly shocked to death hopping a cattle fence in Copiah County in order to get a closer look at a live oak in a field of yellow flowers.
Loyal and a comic genius, if this group has a spirit, it’s Ellen.
Grandson of a cotton farmer and son of a literature teacher and undercover cop, Ryan Steed has spent years exploring and rediscovering the American South. He unearths contradictions and hidden meanings with both his images and titles.
A Memphis-based photographer and educator, Ryan completed an MFA in Photography at Memphis College of Art, where he now teaches darkroom and social documentary photography. His solo exhibition, Went Out for Cigarettes, ran this spring at The Cotton Museum in Memphis, and he is part of Number:inc's Art of the South opening this summer at Crosstown Arts. Ryan has recently exhibited work in Boston, Little Rock, Atlanta, Portland, Minneapolis, Brooklyn, and Zebulon. His art has been featured by AINT-BAD and Oxford American.
Ryan believes in these as absolute truths:
• The Mississippi River is the only river that matters.
• Boots should be worn, not polished.
• His grandmother was a lady.
• All songs are either love songs or murder ballads.
On more than one occasion, Ryan's been peppered with shot in pursuit of an image.
Self sacrificing and genius idea generator, if this group has a sage, Ryan is ours.
Raised in a north Mississippi town you’ll never find, Katie Benjamin is lead creative for all things associated with the co-op. She is an art director at Archer Malmo and teaches a branding course at her alma mater, Memphis College of Art.
Overflowing with creativity, if Due South has a nervecenter, it's Katie.
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