Skip to main content

Current & Upcoming Exhibitions

Houck Medford: Coming Home to Cotton

Houck Medford: Coming Home to Cotton

Houck Medford: Coming Home to Cotton
August 18 - November 3, 2018

Houck Medford: Coming Home to Cotton is a remarkable exploration of one family, broadly defined by blood kin and chosen family, as it has struggled to keep alive a century-old cotton farm in the Four Hole Swamp Region of South Carolina. “In her last breath before my mother died,” explains documentary photographer Houck Medford, “She said to me, ‘Take me home!’ Home for her was her birth-place farm in low-country South Carolina. It has been nearly 50 years since I had spent time there. There have been many changes, and in some respects—none. Cotton is now a huge agribusiness. Story-high machinery and equipment have replaced scores of farm laborers. Farming remains a lifestyle. The farm family goes to church on Sunday; they have children and think about farm succession and ‘keeping it in the family.’ They want everyone to get along. African-Americans still provide the farm workforce.” Medford’s intimate photographs push these close-knit connections between cotton, family, and history to the forefront of the conversation.


Houck Medford was born into a rich world of storytelling traditions.  His experiences with his father and grandfather who were bear-hunting and fish-catching storytellers instilled the values of good timing, imagery, and the power of a well-crafted story. Taking pictures, learning the craft, and eventually embracing photography as the art form has become an extension of his compassion for others and enthusiasm for life.

His photography mentor was Mr. Hugh Morton (1921 – 2006), owner and developer of Grandfather Mountain, now a World Heritage Site. On Houck’s pilgrimage to ask Mr. Morton’ s blessing to create the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Mr. Morton asked, “Do you have a good camera? Do you know how to take great photographs?  Do you know how to tell a story?"

Houck Medford is a native of Waynesville, NC and a third generation dentist. He attended Wake Forest University, received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Emory University, completed his hospital residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and was the first faculty member of the Department of Dentistry at the Wake Forest University Medical Center. He was distinguished professionally as a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology and developed a national teaching program in implant dentistry. He maintained a private practice and retired from dentistry in 1996.

In 1997, he created the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and left the organization in 2010 as CEO Emeritus and Founder. His passion as a documentary photographer and filmmaker, and with his wife “K.B.”,  celebrate the uncelebrated. They personally invest in individuals who they think will make a difference in their lifetime; and who might otherwise not have the resources or opportunities to fully develop their personal potential and unique abilities.