Chester Higgins (aka Chester Arthur Higgins, Jr.)
Shugg Lampley at the Garden Gate
negative 1968; printed 2007
28 3/8 in. x 19 3/16 in. (72.07 cm x 48.74 cm)
Medium and Support:
Platinum print on paper
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase
Chester Higgins was raised in the tiny town of New Brockton, in the Alabama Wiregrass. He attended Tuskegee Institute (now University) and studied there informally with the photographer P. H Polk. He later went to New York, where he eventually became a photographer for the New York Times in 1975, and subsequently published his photographs in many major twentieth-century periodicals.
Higgins made many photographs of his large, extended family and Shugg Lampley was his favorite aunt. One almost senses Aunt Shugg’s patience with the 22-year old photographer who was visiting his home in southeast Alabama after a couple of years away at college. Her kind eyes, closed lips, and ready hands are evenly illuminated by the summer sun as she stands in the gate crowded by a hedge. Soft, dappled light falls on her face, her print dress, and her apron with its convenient pocket stuffed, as it appears to have been often, with a handy hanky or other essentials. It’s the image of a loving, caring elder that embodies the respect for age and wisdom that Higgins learned early and never forgot.