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Ken Light
Oral Histories by Melanie Light

August 31 - October 29, 2006

Exhibition Preview Reception: August 30, 5:30pm (Museum Galleries)

Exhibition Events: October 25 and 26
October 25 at 6:00pm - Book Signing Reception and Meet the Artists (Museum Galleries)

October 25 at 7:00pm - Exhibition Lecture with Ken Light (Bld 110 Rm 112, DBCC Daytona Campus)
October 26 at 10:30am-12:00pm - History, Journalism and Documentary Photography Seminar with Melanie and Ken Light (Photography Dept, Bld 530 Rm 118, DBCC Daytona Campus)

Ken Light's Coal Hollow

"The people in these photographs looked so poor that if I squinted my eyes, they might have been in Africa or Peru. It seemed to me that life had always been rough in Appalachia, but this degree of poverty was the ugliest, toughest poverty I had ever seen. It was too hard."
–Melanie Light (excerpt from Field Note)


For three years Ken Light photographed the gradual death of the coal industry and its culture in the struggling mining communities and former coal company towns of West Virginia. Extreme poverty, welfare dependence, Ku Klux Klan reemergence, major diseases like “black lung”; a sense of hopelessness about lost jobs and lost heritage is haunting the country’s most impoverished state. During his outings at "the hollows", he has attempted to trace roots of coal families, been invited into numerous homes of retired miners, attended outdoor church tent revivals, and recorded ravaging summer floods.This was the first complete showing of the Coal Hollow exhibition, with more than seventy of Ken Light’s powerful photographs presented with accompanying oral histories and text by Melanie Light.


Ken Light is a social documentary photographer whose work has appeared in books, magazines and exhibitions. He is the author of "Delta Time" published in 1995 by the Smithsonian Institution Press and "Texas Death Row" (University Press of Mississippi, 1997). "To The Promised Land" (Aperture 1988); "With These Hands" (Pilgrim Press 1986); and "In the Fields" (Harvest Press 1982), examine the lives of farm workers and their journey from Mexico illegally to the United States. "Witness In Our Time: The Lives of Social Documentary Photographers" was released by the Smithsonian Institution Press in October 2000. Ken Light has exhibited internationally in over 120 one-person and group shows and is part of numerous collections including the San Francisco MOMA, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the International Center of Photography and the American Museum of Art at the Smithsonian. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts Photographers Fellowships, the Dorothea Lange Fellowship and a fellowship from the Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation.

Ken Light’s photographs have been published in Granta, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Mother Jones, The National Journal, Speak, L'Internazionale, Camera Arts and other magazines. He is a Professor and Director of the Center for Photography at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. With Melanie Light, he is the founder of the International Fund for Documentary Photography and Fotovision.

About the Prints: Eighty Three (83) Silver Gelatin Prints

Related Press: Volusia Magazine (.pdf format)

Sample Exhibition Images:
Ken Light's Coal Hollow Ken Light's Coal Hollow Ken Light's Coal Hollow
Installation Images:
Ken Light's Coal HollowKen Light's Coal Hollow Ken Light's Coal Hollow Ken Light's Coal Hollow

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The Southeast Museum of Photography is a service of Daytona State College
1200 W. International Speedway Blvd. (Building 1200) Daytona Beach, FL, 32114, (386) 506-4475
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Exhibitions and programs at the Southeast Museum of Photography are supported in part by Daytona State College, Volusia ECHO and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on the Arts.

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