Sally Mann Essay

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Sally Mann is one of photography’s most acclaimed artists, and through her work of portraiture has captured beautiful, mystical and provoking images. Her series Immediate Family, released in 1989, caused much controversy over the content of that series. The images contained snapshots of her children living out their lives. Yet these images sometimes depicted bloody, sometimes dirty and sometimes nude scenes, which raised alarm in the photography world. In turn, this made everyone think of her works as pedophiliac. “Mann has been accused of building her reputation [as an artist] on the exploitation of her children” (Higonnet, 403). Despite critics’ destructive interpretations of her work, I strongly believe that Mann embodies both the ideal characteristics of a feminist artist and being a good mother to her children. Not only has Mann made a huge impact in the arts, creating a female aesthetic through “the violation of a gender role,” but she also manages to find a median between her work and her children, ultimately combining the latter to produce a collaborative relationship to encapsulate one of the greatest themes of American art: family (Higonnet, 417). Sally Mann captures the true essence of childhood in her photographs of her children. The mischievous and sly gazes suggest a sense of seductiveness as well as a portrayal of innocence. Her black and white prints have been known to be controversial to some and to others her work is praised throughout the art community and in the general public. Her images are haunting, intimate, and disturbing, but at the same time leave the viewer with a sense of comfort. According to Anne Higonnet, Mann’s work has left many “marks” in the arts within our culture. Though no one denies the beauty depicted through Mann’s photographs, her works of art “are accused of originating in a mother’s ruthless sacrifice of her

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