Of the Soil
Photographs of Vernacular Architecture and
Stories of Changing Times in Arkansas
In The Sovereignty of the Individual Frank Lloyd Wright wrote:
"The true basis for any serious study of the art of Architecture still lies in those indigenous, more humble buildings everywhere that are to architecture what folklore is to literature or folk song to music and with which academic architects were seldom concerned.
These many folk structures are of the soil, natural. Though often slight, their virtue is intimately related to the environment and to the heartlife of the people. Functions are usually truthfully conceived and rendered invariably with natural feeling. Results are often beautiful and always instructive."
Dog trot cabins, country stores, wood frame churches, and one-of-a-kind hog houses: local buildings remembered by local people. Of the Soil is a fusion of architectural photographs and personal stories relating to the culture of the American South.
In the early 1980s, working with a commission from the First Federal Savings and Loan of Arkansas, Winningham traveled extensively throughout the state Arkansas, locating and photographing examples of classic southern American vernacular architecture. Working primarily with an 8x10 view camera and in collaboration with the architect Cyrus Sutherland, he photographed over 3,000 structures, amassing an archive of folk architecture from all parts of the state.
In 2010, almost three decades later, Winningham reopened his archive of Arkansas photographs and began to structure a book. In the summer of the same year, he returned to Arkansas, revisiting the sites of many of the structures he had photographed. Most of the buildings, he discovered, had disappeared, victims of fires, storms, or human neglect. What he found instead were local people who remembered the buildings. After listening to their recollections and observations, he wrote the twenty-one stories that accompany the photographs.
Archival pigment prints are available in limited editions from this body of work.