Kristine Potter, Dark Water, 2019; from Kristine Potter: Dark Waters  (Aperture, 2023). © 2023 Kristine Potter

Lucian Books and Wine in Buckhead continues their art book event series with a book release for Kristine Potter’s second monograph, Dark Waters (Aperture, 2023), on Sunday, July 16.

Featuring richly detailed black-and-white photographs that evoke memories of the Southern Gothic landscape, Potter’s work is imagined from once-popular “murder ballads” that capture the landscape of the American South. I recently had the opportunity to correspond with the artist via email to learn more about her process and inspiration.

“My interest in Murder Ballads is particularly related to the celebration of violence, particularly violence against women,” said Potter. “I am using them as an example of a greater compulsion in our cultural appetite to revel in cautionary tales about how women are often victims of male aggression. Of course, not all murder ballads are about the murder of a woman at the hands of a man, but many are, and that is my focus. If you think about our landscape of film and tv, the dead-girl trope is still very active and you can assume, lucrative.”  

Through texture, thoughtful composition, and pensive portraits, Potter’s work contends with the sense of ever-present danger that women often experience as they move through the world.

I asked Potter about her use of Southern landscapes as a representation of the women-centered in these ballads. “I see the landscapes as places that hold either an echo of violence or hold the potential for violence – based on the stories we carry in our heads. Many of the waterscapes are of bodies of water that hold violent or ominous names. This is one way I point to a history of violence in the landscape, but it is my hope that in spite of the name, the landscapes hold a particular visual energy that gives pause to comfort.” 

Potter described herself as a natural explorer, and she shared that her process involves “a lot of walking and looking.” By photographing these spaces in the height of summer she was able to achieve a lush, dark, and overgrown aesthetic which adds to the moody quality of her work.

Potter’s process starts with a color photograph that she usually captures using a medium-format digital camera. From there, she manually converts the image to black-and-white, then tweaks the translation so that it looks distinctly different from black-and-white film.

Potter was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018 and won the Grand Prix Image Vevey for 2019-2020. You may have seen her work in public and private collections of arts institutions such as The High Museum of Art, The Georgia Museum of Art, the Swiss Camera Museum, and Foundation Vevey.

Lucian Books and Wine will host a reception for Dark Waters by Kristine Potter on Sunday, July 16 from 5-7 p.m. The $75 ticket price includes a signed copy of Dark Waters alongside a brief artist presentation.

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.