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William Christenberry
Church, Sprott, Alabama
Fuji Crystal Archive print
Image: 17 1/2 × 21 3/4 inches (44.5 × 55.2 cm)Sheet: 20 × 24 inches (50.8 × 61 cm)Matted: 24 × 30 inches (61 × 76.2 cm)Framed: 24 × 30 inches (61 × 76.2 cm)
Credit Line
Museum purchase with funds provided by the Gari Melchers Collectors’ Society.
Accession Number
William Christenberry’s artwork is deeply rooted in his Hale County, Alabama upbringing. Although Christenberry resided in Washington, D.C. for much of his adult life, he traveled back to the South of his childhood as a continual source of inspiration. Christenberry returned to the same sites year after year to observe the crumbling passage of time through the lens of his 8 x 10 large-format camera. He photographed the same humble, white clapboard church in Sprott, Alabama since 1971, noting that "The church just pulls me in…It's truly, as the hymn says, the church in the wildwood.”

Christenberry earned his MFA in painting from the University of Alabama. Initially using his color snapshots to inform his paintings, he was inspired by Walker Evans and James Agee’s seminal book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), which took Hale County sharecroppers as its subject matter, and he eventually began to pursue photography as an artistic medium in its own right.