Small and self-contained, yet with ties to the larger world, Weeping Mary is a community in rural East Texas. The poetic mystery of its name, which local legend attributes to an African American woman called Mary who wept inconsolably over the loss of her land to a deceitful white man, drew photographer O. Rufus Lovett in 1994. Feeling a kinship with the people and the rhythms of a small Southern town like the one in which he grew up, Lovett began photographing the residents of Weeping Mary. In the decade since his first visit, he has created an impressive body of work that distills the essence of this unique, yet instinctively familiar community.
In this book, O. Rufus Lovett presents an eloquent photo essay on Weeping Mary, created in the tradition of such master photographers as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, and Helen Levitt. Focusing on the people of the community, especially the children, Lovett photographs with honesty and a deep empathy for his subjects. His beautifully composed images show a true eye for the telling details through which the character of an individual reveals itself. As a collection, the photographs create a portrait of a community rich in spirit, in which people are "married to this place which is theirs and appears to stand still, but which subtly moves forward with the rest of the world in the twenty-first century."
To frame the images, America's leading photography curator, Anne Wilkes Tucker, describes the community of Weeping Mary and offers a critical appreciation of Lovett's work. The volume also includes a photographer's statement and an interview in which Lovett and Tucker discuss his development as a fine art photographer and his motivations for creating this intimate portrait of Weeping Mary.
As an interpretive body of work, Lovett's Weeping Mary photographs make a powerful statement about the human community we all share—in his words "our families, pastimes, priorities, wishes, and ideals."
"O. Rufus Lovett photographs with love in his heart. His graphic pictures are elegant and powerfully poignant. They focus on intimate moments in a community's ongoing, everyday life. Viewing his work, I feel like an unexpected but warmly welcomed guest at a private gathering of very close friends and family. Tenderness, humor, anxiety, pain, joy, and sorrow are present in overflowing abundance. I am grateful for this uplifting and deeply touching experience."
"O. Rufus Lovett makes images that are intimate enough to feel like a gift placed in our hands by a lover. Infused with sweet trust and the energetic passions of childhood, they present a strong yet delicate nest of family ties and memories. As I absorb them, I remember places I have never been."
O. Rufus Lovett is a nationally acclaimed photographer and author of the books Weeping Mary and Kilgore Rangerettes. His work has received recognition from the prestigious Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards for Outstanding Magazine Photography. In addition to teaching photography at Kilgore College, Lovett works as a fine art and editorial photographer. His photo-essays have appeared in Texas Monthly, American Photo, Photo Review, LensWork, People, and Gourmet. He has also been profiled in Southern Living.