We’re glad to know that some of Eudora Welty’s Depression-era photographs are on display this summer in New Orleans, thanks to an exhibit at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art at the University of New Orleans.
It doesn’t seem fair, somehow, that a talented writer such as Welty could also be such a gifted photographer. Her talent in crafting both words and pictures is telling evidence that human genius is not evenly distributed. But thanks to her books and her photographs, Welty’s way of seeing can now, in some measure, become our own.
Welty, who lived most of her life in her native Jackson, Miss., died in 2001 at age 92. She was an eloquent observer of the South, including New Orleans, which is featured in some of the pictures in the Ogden exhibit. In her pictures as well as her stories and essays, she had a knack for capturing people exactly as they were, without artifice or restraint.
“I learned quickly enough when to click the shutter,” she said of her pictures, “but what I was becoming aware of more slowly was a story-writer’s truth: The thing to wait on, to reach there in time for, is the moment in which people reveal themselves.”
There is more reality in Welty’s pictures than in any so-called reality show, and that is their magic. They remind us, with crystal clarity, what a great wonder it is to be human.