Sheron Rupp

Datesborn 1943

Sheron Rupp literally photographs people on their home turf--often in their yards or similar zones of comfort. Occasionally she knows the people she photographs, but more often they are complete strangers met while roaming her hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts and elsewhere. This element of chance is important to her work. "My approach is usually not approaching people with my camera," Rupp says. " I do not ever really go up to someone with a camera and say, 'Can I take your picture?'" She strikes up a conversation, first. The results are visible in the casual ease of her subjects, which forms an interesting counterpoint to her more deliberate concerns about color and print quality.

Rupp credits her childhood in the Midwest for her life-long fascination with small-town America. Recalling a particular memoryof visiting relatives on a "dirt farm" in northwest Arkansas, she realized early an affinity for rural environments. In 1965 she earned a BA in sociology and psychology from Denison University in Granville, Ohio. She taught herself photography, then later returned to college to pursue it more formally. She earned an MFA in photography from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1982. Rupp credits the influences of photographers Helen Levitt for a candid approach and William Eggleston for his sense of color and interest in the quotidian, as well as anonymous family snapshots for their casual ambiance.

In the 1980s, Rupp documented Appalachian areas of Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky and returned to the mountainous region of Arkansas she remembered from her youth. She received recognition when her work was included in Museum of Modern Art curator Peter Galassi's influential 1991 exhibition, The Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort. To date, Rupp's most notable series include: In Montana with Beth (1995-1999) and Picturing Northampton (2004).