The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams’ Appalachia

Thursday, Nov 16, 7:00pm

Blowing Rock Art & History Museum

159 Chestnut St.

$5 students with ID, seniors, active military, EBT cardholders, $7 general admission


The True Meaning of Pictures is a feature-length documentary which addresses the issue of representation in documentary photography by examining the work of American photographer Shelby Lee Adams.

More specifically, the film seeks to spend time with the subjects of Adams’ work in order to get to know them better and it address the controversy and response Adams' photographs generate, which involves the politics of representation. Both strands of the film will combine to explore the larger-- and also self-reflexive-- issue of whether it is possible to "document" a community. The emotional intention is to compel viewers to move beyond voyeurism into empathy, so that by the end of the film they will feel authentically connected to people with whom they assume they have nothing in common.

And, if viewers would like to explore ways in which stereotyping has played out in the portrayal of Appalachian people, please visit our brand-new exhibition Comic Stripped: A revealing Look at Southern Stereotypes in Cartoons, on loan from The Levine Museum of the New South and on exhibit at BRAHM from November 11, 2017 to March 10, 2018.


"Without passing judgment, [Baichwal] develops an extraordinary perspective, both moral and aesthetic." – Brian D. Johnson, Macleans magazine

"Baichwal gives us a provocative look at the way meaning is created in the mind of the viewer." – John Harkness, NOW magazine

"Unlike most bio-documentaries, Baichwal explores her subject with integrity, guts and a critical eye." – Take one, Film & Television in Canada

Movies at the Museum features films by North Carolina filmmakers, films about the arts, and about the history and culture of the Appalachian region. Complimentary popcorn will be provided, and the film will be followed by a discussion facilitated by a special guest speaker.

Movies at the Museum is sponsored by Bistro Roca.