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William Christenberry

Red Soil and Kudzu--near Moundville, Alabama
1980/printed 1981
type C print
17 5/16 x 22 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Dr. Martha Gross

A major theme in William Christenberry’s art is the tension between past and present that can be felt in nature and in the culture of the modern South. Here, the native Alabaman fills more than half the frame with kudzu vine, leaving the viewer wondering what’s underneath. Is this creeping yet eerily beautiful vine devouring only pine trees like those in the background or has it also consumed a dwelling, erasing all trace of human presence?