ECHO OF THE SPIRIT

Coming October 19, 2004

 

In stunning photographs and an intimate narrative, award-winning New York Times photographer Chester Higgins chronicles his forty-year quest to capture and celebrate the singular, defining qualities of people, places, and events.

“This is a story about my life as a photographer, my growth as an artist, and my search for individual and collective identity, and about how the Spirit has come to influence this process. Photography is my tool to discover and acknowledge the echo of the spirit. I never sought the Spirit. Quite the contrary. The Spirit inserted itself into my life in a vision in the middle of the night when I was only nine years old...

My years as a childhood minister illuminate the passion I bring to my photographic mission today. After choosing the camera to be my instrument to confront and embrace my reality, I pursued photography with zeal. I set out to record all things dear in the life and culture of people of African descent — the same people to whom I had once ministered.

Whenever I make a photograph I try to capture the signature of the Spirit. Unseen, but ever manifesting itself, the Spirit sustains and enriches what is inside everything. The Spirit informs my daily living.”


Describing his decision to become a photographer, Chester Higgins writes, "There were things I thought should be appreciated that were not being seen. I figured they would only be seen if I went out and shot them." As a New York Times photographer, Higgins has taken glorious, one-of-a-kind pictures of people from all walks of life — American presidents and other heads of state, fashionable celebrities, and ordinary people — and covered grim disasters and history-making events. Throughout his career, Higgins has also pursued a more personal mission: in unforgettable photographs, he has documented the history and lives of people of African American and African descent.

Echo of the Spirit is Higgins’s most personal work to date. In photographs rich in spirit and memory and a simple but elegant text, he focuses on the significant people and events of his own life, from his days as a boyhood preacher in New Brockton, Alabama, where he was reared by his mother and stepfather, to his first encounters with the works of great photographers during his student years, to his emergence as a highly respected and much admired artist. There are images and memories of his favorite great uncle, Forth, who died at the age of 108, and of his Aunt Shugg, a masterful quilt maker. He pays tribute to his mentors — P.H.Polk, Cornell Capa, Gordon Parks, Romare Bearden, and Arthur Rothstein — describing their lessons and their influence on his work.

Higgins’s extraordinary ability to get to the spirit of things — the essence of what makes people and places come alive, makes them interesting, beautiful, or ugly — resonates throughout Echo of the Spirit. It is a remarkable look at a creative life and the cultural history that shaped it.

CHESTER HIGGINS has been on the staff of the New York Times since 1975. His photographs have also appeared in Artnews, Newsweek, Fortune, Essence, and a number of other magazines and have been featured on CBS News Sunday Morning and several PBS and ABC television programs. He has had one-man shows at the International Center of Photography, the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of African Art, and the Schomburg Center, and is the author of Elder Grace, Feeling the Spirit, Some Time Ago, Drums of Life, and Black Woman. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

 

BOOK DIMENSIONS: 9" x 8", 192 pages. ISBN 0-385-50978-2
Publication date: 10/19/04. Price US $ 29.95

To place orders in the US: 1-800-726.0600
Doubleday, 1745 Broadway, New York, New York 212-782-9000
www.doubleday.com

 
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