Send It On Down is an exhibition of photographs by Deborah Luster related to The Lost Roads Project: A Walk-In Book of Arkansas and The Rosesucker Retablos from the nineteen nineties that rewards the viewer with the sense of having that firm grasp on reality that characterizes the best straight photography and the intellectual satisfaction that comes from technical mastery of the medium and the artist’s sense of design. Although obviously posed and composed, Luster’s photographs have an elusive quality that challenges one’s ability to stay focused on the photographs themselves and their subjects and not to wander into the miasma of interpretation. Like the work of predecessor southern photographers Walker Evans, Eudora Welty, and Thomas Eggleston, Luster’s work evidences a world hitherto unknown to the typical viewer for whom the photographs are surrogate experience in the best tradition of documentary photography. The clarity of the artist’s vision leads one to trust the integrity of the photographer and the photograph, finding interest in what the subjects would consider as ordinary and everyday, an interest that makes the ordinary and everyday something special.
More than any other medium, photography is about time and time’s relationship to light and circumstance. In the hands of three Southern photographers, the results are often poetic. Deborah Luster’s early works, on view at Arthur Roger Gallery, predate her more famous images of Louisiana prisoners and crime scenes, but the same insightful whimsy illuminates views that include rural children posed with captive eels or dressed in their Sunday best amid fields of billowy cotton.