A Decade of Documenting the Human Experience

Photographer Beate Sass returns to Tall Timbers for a one woman exhibit of her last ten years of work. The exhibit opens at the Webster Art Gallery Saturday, March 7, with a “Meet the Artist” reception from 3:00‒5:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

About 11 years ago, Tall Timbers was privileged to work with Beate Sass, a gifted photographer living in Tallahassee, who was interested in our tenant farm restoration project. Not only did she document the historic structures and artifacts, but she also did portrait studies of former tenant family members who had lived on Tall Timbers Plantation. Beate asked each one to bring an object that they felt connected them with the project, and incorporated the object into the portrait narrative. The photographic portion of the restoration culminated in a memorable exhibit at LeMoyne Arts in 2010.

Shortly after the close of this exhibit, Beate and her family moved to Decatur, Georgia when her husband accepted a position at Georgia State University. Beate quickly integrated into the metro Atlanta professional photography world. Soon she was involved with a project called We Are Decatur. The small city of Decatur, county seat of DeKalb County, was a microcosm of what had happened all over metro Atlanta for the past 50 plus years. Regardless of race, religion, gender or ethnicity, people were living and working respectfully together, and were bringing prosperity to what had been a depressed area of the city. Eight of these powerful images will be part of the Tall Timbers exhibit.

Sharian Rugs is the oldest family business in the City of Decatur. It has prospered since it was founded in 1931 by Bedros and Paul Sharian’s parents, who were Armenian immigrants. Paul and Bedros joined the family business as young men and took over the operation from their parents in the 1950s. Despite being in their nineties, Bedros and Paul continue to come into the office on a daily basis but have passed the management on to their children and grandchildren.

On a more personal level, Beate decided to document her 90 year-old father’s life. Too often, in our society’s emphasis on youth, we forget that our seniors live meaningful lives. Beate used her skill and artistry with the camera to bring her father’s simple daily activities into stunning focus. Ten images will be displayed as part of this collection.
One image of her current work in progress—documenting the now-closed United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur, Georgia—will be included in this show. This project includes photographs of and stories about the former residents, employees and volunteers of the Children’s Home, which is now owned by the city of Decatur.

Finally, a number of the Tall Timbers images featured in the LeMoyne exhibit will be reintroduced. The staff and volunteers have looked forward to bringing Beate back to Tall Timbers to exhibit her work.

The Webster Art Gallery, in the historic Beadel House at Tall Timbers, is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00‒4:00 p.m. Questions regarding access and special tour times should be directed to curator, Juanita Whiddon at 850-566-3390. The Beate Sass photography exhibit continues through the end of May.

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