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British photographer’s view of American South

Editor’s note: This is the first post in a series highlighting photographers commissioned by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta for its “Picturing the South” collection. New work from Martin Parr, Kael Alford and Shane Lavalette will be exhibited at the museum beginning in June.

British photographer Martin Parr’s previously unseen “Up and Down Peachtree” captures everyday life in Atlanta. The project brought him to the American South for the first time.

In his usual quirky style, he focuses on the seemingly mundane — eating a hotdog, singing in church and attending at an art festival — to reveal the spirit and culture of the community.

“Ordinary people and ordinary things, like the local supermarket, inspire me with the same passion that leads other photographers to go to war zones,” Parr said in a statement released by Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.

For the past 16 years, the museum has been commissioning photographers in various stages of their careers to produce work inspired by the South.

The High’s curator of photography, Brett Abbott, appreciates that Parr focused on an urban center since most of the other photographers have looked at smaller communities.

As an international photographer, Parr “gravitates toward the same thing” wherever he is, Abbott said. It enables him to connect Atlanta, a city with a strong Southern identity, to themes he finds across the globe.

“I hope (viewers) will think of the South as a place – and their immediate surroundings as a place – of visual inspiration,” Abbott said.

- Elizabeth I. Johnson, CNN