Wright Morris' portfolio of 14 inch x 17 inch photographs is largely of the American West in the middle of the 20th Century. His subjects are frequently artifacts, architecture, and interiors.
The donor of this series became a close friend of Morris, an accomplished writer and photographer, while both were teaching in the English department at San Francisco State University. After Morris's passing, Arkin was designated the executor of Morris's literary and photographic archives. Donated as a contribution to the Class of 1963's 50th reunion gift and in memory of former Amherst College Professor Benjamin DeMott, Arkin also chose this portfolio because of Morris's connection to Amherst College. In the fall of 1958, Morris visited campus and gave a series of lectures that would become his book The Territory Ahead. Coincidentally, Arkin arrived at Amherst only a year later.
Morris's photographs typically feature architecture, interiors, and artifacts, such as a jukebox or the contents of a dresser drawer, rather than human figures. Meditations on seeing, time, and memory, the photographs reveal that inanimate objects bear visible and invisible traces of their owners, imbuing their spaces with the essence of their absent inhabitants. The photographs in this portfolio appeared in Morris's published "photo-texts"--pairings of his photographs and passages of writing that were innovative at the time for their disjunctive nature. The photographs do not illustrate the text, nor does the text describe the photographs. Morris intends for this to enhance and expand our interpretation of each component beyond what may be possible with a more obvious pairing.
See the individual object entries to read the texts that Morris paired with these images in The Inhabitants (1946), The Home Place (1948), God's Country and My People (1968).
interiors; photojournalism; realism; rural; architecture; portfolios
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