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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Sheron Rupp

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Born: Sheron Adeline Rupp 
Dates:  1943, 14 January -
Born:  US, OH, Mansfield
Active:  US
American contemporary documentary photographer.
Photographs from Ohio
After getting my M.F.A. at age 40, I was drawn to going back in 1983-85 to Ohio, the place where I spent my formative years growing up and going to college in the 1960's. I was intrigued to see once again the small town life I remembered from my childhood. Usually, I drove around small towns, trying to get up the nerve to stop and approach a place or scene which called to me. Rarely, did I jump out of the car first with my camera slung over my shoulder, along with a pocket book filled with film. I usually approached people with inane questions or comments. There was always something to talk about, usually the stuff I saw in their yards (one-eyed stuffed bears on porches, new puppies, gardens, kids at play). I became interested in the poor, southeastern parts of Ohio, where people hung out more in their yards and the children were hungry for attention. Time was heightened when I finally could get to some form of communication about my work and could ask for permission to take some photographs. Then the real work began, sometimes knowing I had to have eyes in the back of my head.
Later in 2001and 2002, I returned to Ohio to continue photographing there. This time duty called, the responsibility of checking in on my mother who was in failing health. For distraction and relief, I wandered around environs much closer to the town of Mansfield where I grew up. I returned to familiar parks where my sister and I used to play, as well as visiting a now elderly neighbor, "Mary," who was still living in the same house and neighborhood where I had lived almost fifty years ago. It took a lot of patience to balance long conversations about the past and the present with my eagerness to take photographs. For me, sometimes the best pictures come after a little bit of personal exchange and conversation. However, this said, I rarely can return to the same exact place and people to continue photographing them. I can become too attached, or involved, and the photographing becomes secondary. There is no longer the excitement of discovery. In the end, it's the photograph which matters, a hard admission when you pose yourself as a "concerned photographer." With this is mind, I move on, realizing that there are always more horizons to see and new-found strangers to meet.
(Sheron Rupp, pers. email, 25 June 2012) 
Artist statement: 
For almost thirty years I have traveled throughout the United States photographing people and where they live- from southeastern parts of Ohio, New England, the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont, Montana, parts of the northwest, the Ozarks in Arkansas, rural Ontario, Canada to the Appalachian regions of Kentucky and Tennessee. Most of the places I have been drawn to are small, rural towns and the nondescript neighborhood in America.
My work has always involved a deep, committed search to find people whose lives express to me a form of human pathos, poetic vision, as well as narrative description. Often I have felt "at home" with the people I have photographed, knowing that biographical parts of my own life have sometimes influenced my instincts. For these reasons, I have never considered my work documentary. I consider my work a serious validation of my contact with the people I choose to photograph. Meaning, to me, is expressed on a more personal level, not an interpretive one. My work deals more with photographing the mundane, the arbitrary aspects of people's lives. It is the passing dailiness of the ordinary, the insignificant detail and disconnection which grab my eye, hoping to arrive at a photograph which holds some lyricism or "story" from lives so little known to the larger world. To me, the human drama of the obvious can sometimes offer revelation about the lives of others.
(Sheron Rupp - pers. email, 25 June 2012)

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Sheron Rupp
Self portrait of Sheron Rupp in an old room 
2008 (ca)
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