Whitten Sabbatini: The States Project: Mississippi
I met Whitten Sabbatini in 2011 at an exhibition opening of my African photographs at Mississippi State University where he was doing his BFA. He made an impression on me as one of the few students to stay around and talk about my work. In turn, I became interested in his work. I saw him a year later at a Society for Photographic Education (SPE) regional conference. His BFA work was spread out on the floor, and he was engaging people as he sought out their reactions. That openness and willingness to share ideas is something I remembered. I could tell that he was passionate about photography in terms of how it could be used to portray relationships and community. With a fresh and respectful approach, he related well to people and was genuine in showing the every day without being mundane or overly romantic. Since then, I have seen his career as a young artist, now pursuing his MFA, take off. His subject matter features the South where he grew up and lets us see life there as it really is with all kinds of people. Another Day in Paradise certainly does not seem like any paradise we might imagine. But he captures what for many of us are all we have, and perhaps all we need, to recognize moments of a paradise in our daily life. If you want to learn more about Whitten’s work check out his website for some of his other portfolios (especially those in color). His honest, laid back approach helps viewers relate to the South in a way that I have not seen in other photographers’ work.
Whitten Sabbatini (b. 1990, Mississippi) earned his BFA in photography from Mississippi State University (‘12) and is currently an MFA Candidate at Columbia College Chicago (‘17). His photographs have been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including a solo exhibition at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in 2014. His work has been published in numerous publications, including Aint-Bad Magazine: The American South, and Mossless: The United States 2003 – 2013. His work is held in the permanent collections of The Do Good Fund, Candela Books, and The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
The title for this collection of pictures derives from a phrase I used to hear my father say in response to a simple question of, “How’s everything going today?” I’m not sure the initial person asking the question ever actually expected a verbal answer from my father, perhaps a remark about the weather, but without fail my dad would always respond in the same sort of poetic and naive way, “Oh, it’s another day in Paradise.”
The idea behind this simple phrase is what motivates these pictures, all of which were made on various trips taken back home to Mississippi from Chicago, where I’ve been attending graduate school for the past two years. It seems that Paradise is a land of perfection and mythology, but one that can never be achieved fully or without flaw. Perhaps it’s the combination of these two contradicting aspects that are so beautiful to me.
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Alysia Burton Steele: The States Project: MississippiDecember 18th, 2016
Will Jacks: The States Project: MississippiDecember 17th, 2016
Jaime Johnson: The States Project: MississippiDecember 16th, 2016
Whitten Sabbatini: The States Project: MississippiDecember 15th, 2016
Don Norris: The States Project: MississippiDecember 14th, 2016