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“Kitchen Wall, Alabama Farmstead”

Walker Evans, Kitchen Wall, Alabama Farmstead (1936). Courtesy Williams College Museum of Art.

On March 16, 2012, Gastronomica and Orion magazines presented “An Evening of Art, Literature and Food” at the Williams College Museum of Art as part of the Berkshire Women Writers Festival. Gastronomica’s Darra Goldstein and Orion’s Hannah Fries asked several celebrated women writers to respond to Walker Evans’ photograph Kitchen Wall, Alabama Homestead, in WCMA’s collection.

In the summer of 1936 the photographer Walker Evans collaborated with the writer James Agee on an article about cotton farmers in the American South. The article was never published, but the material they gathered eventually became the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, published in 1941. For four weeks in July, Evans photographed three sharecropper families and their environment. Agee noted the significance of “bareness and space” in these homes: “general odds and ends are set very plainly and squarely discrete from one another. . . [giving] each object a full strength it would not otherwise have.” These objects only hint at the lives of the inhabitants of this house, which remain essentially unknown to us. We asked writers Ruth Reichl, Francine Prose, and Elizabeth Graver, and poets Ellen Doré Watson, and Patty Crane to reflect on Evans’ photograph, to imagine the lives beyond the kitchen wall.

Their beautiful responses are gathered here. Click each name or photo to read.

Ruth Reichl Francine Prose Elizabeth Graver Ellen Dore Watson Patty Crane

One Response to “Kitchen Wall, Alabama Farmstead”

  1. Cynthia A. June 14, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    Thank you for sharing the responses of each of these amazing women! The evening was such a joy for all of us who attended.

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