Kenyon College

Eudora Welty’s Kitchen


Artist: William Eggleston
Title of Work: Eudora Welty’s Kitchen
Year: 1982-3
Dimensions: 33″ x 22 1/2″
Material: Photograph
Photo Line: University of Wyoming Art Museum
Collection Credit: UW Art Museum Purchase, University of Wyoming Art Museum Collection, 2011.5

“[Eggleston] remains a photographer who never trifles with actuality: he works with
actuality, and within it–the self-evident and persisting world confronted by us all. The
human being, unseen, remains the reason these photographs of place carry such power
to move and disturb us–and, by the end, somewhat hearten us.”
– Eudora Welty, The Democratic Forest.

Known for his precious elevation of the mundane, William Eggleston imbues his deceptively simple scenes with intense underlying emotions, as illustrated in Eudora Welty’s Kitchen. Eggleston’s career helped legitimize color photography as an art form, a process that had previously been viewed as uncultured and common. The photograph’s formal staging and the dramatic contrast between light and dark hint at a ceremony that transcends, say, baking a pie. The kitchen’s owner, Eudora Welty, was an American writer and photographer, famed for depicting the everyday reality of Southern life. Welty’s emphasis on capturing Southern idioms and customs resonates with Eggleston’s own Southern upbringing and adoration of commonplace scenes. Though essentially secular in subject matter, Eudora Welty’s Kitchen also evokes a kind of religious scene. Through Eggleston’s lens, the table becomes an altar, the jars religious relics, the setting sacred. The everyday is ritualized. There exists, too, a sense of mystery within the photograph; one cannot be sure what lies within the jars on the table, beyond the window or outside the camera’s lens.

–Maddy Foley ‘13, Gund Gallery Associate