Life Lit Up

Bringing to Light: The Massengill Family Photo Collection

October 11, 2015 — January 17, 2016

In the first museum exhibition of this body of work, the Massengill family photo collection demonstrates the role of photography in the recounting of daily lives. This collection of nearly 800 photographic portraits was produced by two generations in a hand-built photo studio trailer during the Depression in Arkansas. In the mid-1930s, Jim and Mancy Massengill started this family side-business to make ends meet. Without formal training, they taught themselves to construct a commercial-use camera, build portable studios, and make prints on-site so clients could purchase photographs at the time of the sitting. Traveling across the state to fairs and community events, the Massengills created precious keepsakes and captured an intimate portrait of the rural South.