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Introducing Shelby Lee Adams


September 17, 2022

The Paul Paletti Gallery is pleased to welcome the IKT Congress to Kentucky for their 2022 meeting. To support their theme, “Global Appalachia” we will be hosting the delegates for a show by native Kentuckian and gallery favorite Shelby Lee Adams of his work (both color and black and white) with the people of Eastern Kentucky.

Shelby’s distinctive style of environmental portraits has created a unique and compassionate record of the people in that region’s rural areas and hollers. Working completely by word-of-mouth referral, Shelby has photographed several generations of families who have become his friends and subjects over the years.

Shelby was born in 1950 in Hazard, Kentucky. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Photography from Cleveland Institute of Art in 1974, his Masters Degree from the University of Iowa in 1975, and his Master of Fine Arts Degree from Massachusetts College of Arts in 1989. Since 1970, his primary subject matter has been the people of Eastern Kentucky. His work is held in the collection of over 40 museums throughout the world, and he has had over 60 solo exhibitions in the United States and abroad since 1980. He has published the monographs: Appalachian Portraits (1993), Appalachian Legacy (1998), Appalachian Lives (2003) and Salt and Truth (2011). In 2002 Adams was also the subject of a documentary film by Jennifer Baichwal, “The True Meaning of Pictures”, that was shown at the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals.

In addition to the Adams exhibit, the gallery, the state’s only one solely devoted to fine art photography, also features work by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Alfred Steiglitz, Edward Steichen, Imogen Cunningham, Margaret Bourke-White and many others on display as part of its permanent collection.