Photographs and Text by Emily Grimes
96 reproductions, 108 pages
12 ½” x 12 ½”
The site of a Civil War battle and a touchstone in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, has long held an evocative place in American history. Yet the refined, leisurely lifestyle of the Mountain’s affluent residents throughout the twentieth century has remained hidden from view—until now.
In On My Mother’s Side, Chicago-based photographer Emily Grimes offers an insider’s view of the secluded, tight-knit community in which she was raised. Growing up in the rarified air atop Lookout Mountain, Grimes, her siblings, and their twelve cousins were surrounded by parents and grandparents for whom both the daily cocktail hour and Sunday church services were sacrosanct. Through sensitive and crystalline photographs spanning three decades and four generations, Grimes captures a time and a place where live-in maids ministered to family needs, holiday traditions continued despite divorce and remarriage, and entire lifetimes were lived in one small town.
Unlike many of her relatives, Grimes moved away from Lookout Mountain as a young adult. In the 1970s, as her career as a photographer took shape, Grimes became her family’s unofficial documentarian during her frequent trips home. Snapped unobtrusively, her photographs portray a seemingly idyllic land whose residents, cradled among their loved ones and the comforts of life, appear always sun-kissed, elegant, at ease. Yet in poignant (and at times humorous) stories accompanying the photographs, Grimes reveals not only the delights of belonging to a large, loving family, but also the sorrows and struggles that play out beneath the polished surface.
On My Mother’s Side chronicles the Caldwell family’s journey through the past century even as they remained firmly rooted in the fertile soil of Tennessee. Giving us more than an intimate family album, Grimes shares the saga of an American family during a time when snapshots were preserved within the pages of thick albums and black-and-white portraits proudly lined the walls.
EMILY GRIMES has been making photographs ever since ordering her first camera, an Asahi Pentax, by mail from Japan in 1968. Her images of her family’s genteel Southern lifestyle on Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, have been exhibited at the Santa Fe Center for Photography and at the Rizzoli Gallery in Chicago. For many years Grimes has also photographed the landscape of her husband’s family farm in Iowa. Her knowledge of conservation practices, reflected in photographs of woodlands, wetlands, prairies, and farmlands has led to recent solo exhibitions in Iowa and Chicago. And on Chicago’s South Side, a world away from life on Lookout Mountain and the farms of Iowa, Grimes is capturing the voices and styles of emerging hip-hop artists in video and still photography.
“Viewing the world through the lens of a camera, whether a Midwestern farm landscape, a family gathering in Tennessee, or an urban cityscape,” says Grimes, “enables me to enter a space and explore its content and possibilities, while simultaneously responding to the subject matter emotionally, intellectually, and creatively.” Grimes is a founding member of the Chicago artists’ cooperative, Images Gallery, where she frequently exhibits her photographs. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Roger Grimes.
Regular Hardbound Edition of 1000 Copies
96 reproductions, 108 pages
11″ x 13″