Stacy Kranitz has developed an extensive body of work over the past six years while she has been living and working in the Appalachian mountains of North America. Entitled As it was Give(n) to Me, it combines her photography with an archive of collected images, text, drawings and objects that traces the histories of exploration and extraction in the area, and examines representations of reality and the inherent flaws and ruptures in our notions of the truth.
‘Speak Your Piece’ is the first book to be produced using some of this material. It combines a selection of her photographs from central Appalachia with extracts from a local newspaper column, in which residents are given space to contribute anything that is on their minds.
The contributions, which address issues such as the decline of the coal industry, the prevalence of drug use, family relationships, love, lust and loneliness, range from the heartwarming to the heartbreaking, the comic to the tragic. For Kranitz, what is remarkable is how they cross beyond the barriers of county lines and mountains to speak collectively about our experience on this earth. They give voice to the uniqueness of rural mountain life while also communicating the customs and rituals of human existence.
Stacy Kranitz was born in Kentucky and received a BFA from New York University and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Her work has been featured in Adbusters, Elle, Granta, Mother Jones, New York Times Magazine, Oxford American, Rolling Stone, Vice and Wired.
‘When I started making photographs in the central Appalachian region of the United States in 2011, I began to collect contributions made to a weekly newspaper column called ‘Speak Your Piece’. The newspaper is based in Whitesburg, Kentucky and represents the many small towns and unincorporated communities of Letcher County. The paper began inviting residents to call or mail in their thoughts, feelings and concerns in 1982. Since its inception, the column has offered an intimate portrait of the people who live in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. When I read the column, I think about my photographs and what I want for them. I hope they bear witness in a way that is both extraordinarily specific and universal. I hope that they offer a narrative as bold and heart-felt as the contributions to the column selected for this book.’
– Stacy Kranitz