When photographer Rob Amberg first met Dellie Norton and her adopted
son, Junior, in 1975, Norton was seventy-six years old and had lived
most of her life in the small mountain community of Sodom Laurel, North
Carolina, surrounded by close kin, tobacco fields, and the rugged
wilderness of the southern Appalachians. Sodom Laurel Album traces
the growing relationship between Norton and Amberg across the next two
decades, years marked by the seasons of raising and harvesting food and
tobacco and by the gatherings of family and friends for conversation,
storytelling, and music.
Richly evocative images are interlaced with stories of the people of
Sodom Laurel and with Amberg's own candid journals, which reveal his
gradually growing understanding of this world he entered as a stranger.
The book also includes a CD featuring Dellie Norton, Doug Wallin, and
other singers of traditional Appalachian music. Through words,
photographs, oral histories, and songs, Sodom Laurel Album tells the
moving story of a once-isolated community on the brink of change, the
people who live there, and the music that binds them together.
Sodom Laurel Album is the companion publication to a traveling
exhibition that will open at the Asheville Art Museum in November 2002.
This project received support from the North Carolina Arts Council, an
agency funded by the State of North Carolina and the National Endowment
for the Arts.
Rob Amberg is an award-winning photographer and writer who does
assignment work for nonprofit organizations, foundations, and
publications. He lives in Madison County, North Carolina. Dellie
Chandler Norton (1898-1993) was a much-loved storyteller and ballad
singer whose songs were recorded by Alan Lomax and John Cohen. In 1990,
she received a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award.
The Center for
Documentary Studies, an interdisciplinary educational
organization affiliated with Duke University, is dedicated to advancing
documentary work that combines experience and creativity with education
and community life. Founded in 1989, CDS connects the arts and
humanities to fieldwork, drawing upon photography, filmmaking, oral
history, folklore, and writing as catalysts for education and change.