Accra Shepp has developed a unique process in his photography-based practice over the years, a captivating transformation of preserved tobacco and certain mammoth indigenous leaves into photoreactive materials. Onto these tanned, veined, physically huge but texturally fragile surfaces, Shepp enacts photographic portraits of the laborers who work these crops and farmlands. By grafting their images in such a physically integrated way, the image seems to emerge from within the leaf.
Shepp will show a selection of such works made in recent years, silver gelatin emulsions on leaf, which are then mounted on paper. An earthen palette and leathery, autumnal and ritualistic aura give each piece the singular presence of a rare, painterly object. There is an evocative, elusive, emotional energy that radiates from their material mysteriousness. At the same time, being part of larger research and socio-economic critique, the pictures embody journalistic documentation, individual narratives, and a centering of disremembered history.
Accra Shepp has exhibited extensively in galleries and museums such as the African American Museum, Philadelphia, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Whitney Museum and the Brooklyn Museum just to name a few.