Photography by Aaron Blum
Aaron Blum is an eighth generation West Virginian, and creates art deeply linked to his home. Most of his work centers around a single question, what does it mean to be Appalachian? Through this question he address many different artistic concepts from idealized memory vs. stereotypes to ideas of folk taxonomy. His creation process is a diversified approach of image-based media to create a glimpse into his own concepts of Appalachia, and the social fabric of a very large and misrepresented people and place. His series Born and Raised is a granulated depiction based on the false impressions of others, and his idealizations and personal experiences. He pays close attention to the quality of light and the landscape as well as cultural markers to produce a unique version of the life in the hills of Appalachia.
From his Artist statement:
Light plays an important role in how I understand this place. The warm southern sun creates a glow that pours over the mountains, rivers and forests creating long shadows, dark recesses and gray mists that blanket the landscape. This unique quality of light is inherent to the hills and provides a catalyst to the imagination- a backdrop that becomes both magnificent and eerie. It is its own character within my story of Appalachia.
The people who inhabit the photographs are my upper middle class family and friends in West Virginia. They play slightly exaggerated roles of themselves within sets I have constructed using their homes, furniture and objects. After I create my depiction of each character I carefully assemble the images to build my concept of home. The end product is a strand of life pulled from the whole.
Aaron Blum received his BFA from West Virginia University and his MFA from Syracuse University. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally at such places as The Halpert Biennial: Appalachian State University, Houston Center for Photography and Silver Eye Center for Photography. He was selected as the 2011 jurors choice award winner for the project competition at Center, the Santa Fe Center for Photography, selected as part of the Critical Mass top 50 2013, and is a Leopold Godowsky Jr. Color Photography award winner.