Alabama Not Just Football: 30 Amazing People Who Were Built By Bama

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William Christenberry

William Christenberry was born in Tuscaloosa and holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Alabama. After graduating, he moved to New York City to begin his career as an abstract-expressionist painter. His career originally focused on large scale abstract-impressionist canvas paintings, but he quickly found inspiration elsewhere.

Early in his career, he came across the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a narrative and photographic account of Hale County, AL during the Great Depression. The book resonated with Christenberry, who spent his childhood summers with relatives in Hale County. He realized that his grandparents knew some of the subjects of the photographs.

Some photographs made such an impression that he started visiting Hale County as an adult to take pictures of his own. He quickly became recognized as a pioneer in fine-art color photography.

One series of pictures taken in Hale County, of decaying structures, translated into a set of sculptures based on the photos. His work with sculpture expanded into multi-media and found-object art installations.

Christenberry’s art continues to draw from his Alabama roots and focuses on the effects of time on structures, ideals, and on people’s movement out of rural areas. His photos often focus on decaying structures or landmarks as the only object in the frame of a photo, showing how they break up landscapes even as they fall into disrepair.

Christenberry has been featured in solo exhibitions around the United States and in France, Germany, and Spain. He teaches painting at the Corcoran College of Art and Design.

William Christenberry died November 28, 2016.

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