1961 and 2005, Christenberry, an Alabama native, chronicles the passage of time and the effects of age and weathering on his favorite subjects: the simple wooden structures, graveyards, and signs of rural Alabama.
For some of these shots Christenberry uses a Kodak Brownie, an inexpensive, square-format box camera simple enough for a child to use. This doesn't surprise me when I reflect on the childlike simplicity of his most ubiquitous composition: the front of an old building situated directly in the center of the frame and surrounded by the rurality of fields, woods, or deserted downtowns. Shot from such a straightforward vantage point, these photographs function almost like children's drawings. The buildings are triangles on top of squares in a closed, often square frame. Nothing strays outside the image except more field, more dirt road, more woods. In their simplicity and repetition, they beg you to take in the small details — the rusty tin roof lying peacefully in front of the house it belonged to, a kudzu vine growing into an open door.
Most of these hauntingly lonely images lack people. In fact, the entire collection includes only one human portrait. An older, tired-looking woman sits on a tattered wooden porch with a tan paper Winn-Dixie grocery sack at her feet, a subtle reminder that plastic bags never caught on here, and some folks still think Dixie might win.