Aaron Canipe

Aaron Canipe, a native to North Carolina, works in a similar fashion to Allen Ginsberg and Duane Michals. Aaron applies text to his photographs to inform and encapsulate his day-to-day accounts through a sense of place. In series titled “Native Place” Aaron continues the praxis of oral history as we experience his personal accounts through the lens of his camera. His series builds a beautiful visual description of southern mentality while at the same time underline his families uniqueness. His photographs and writings are curious. They maintain a particular amount of humanness, sharing his story about who we are as humans, our interactions and imperfections, inflations and realities.

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I was always commended by my teachers in grade school on being able to sit still and listen to the librarians read a book. It wasn’t so much the content of the storybook I was focused on, but how the person telling it, how they used exaggerated voices or facial expressions to convey a certain mood within the text. I thought you could tell a lot from a person by how much they dove into the story and how they thought it should be told. A bit of oneself lies within that story. This is an age where memories can be recorded and forgotten about as quickly as the late copper sunlight on a winter’s afternoon. It’s comforting to know that sitting and listening to one another stories about who they are or their native place, instills a long-standing, beautiful oral tradition. 

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But, often we can’t see the beauty in something until we look at it from a distance. When I lived in North Carolina, I couldn’t see the appeal or feel the draw of Southern culture. Since moving to Washington, DC, all these things that make the South what it is, seem slightly clearer. For me, the things that make up the South are the enduring qualities of history and vernacular storytelling. What I’ve discovered is that the South is not only a part of the country steeped in memory, but an atmosphere. I’m interested in how my own memories of growing up in North Carolina relate to how I see the present. I’m wondering where my own identity is poised as I figure out where my own memories and stories reside while experiencing them once removed through a camera lens.

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Aaron Canipe is a recent graduate of the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. He helps operate Empty Stretch, a platform that promotes up-and-coming artists and publishes short-run photography zines and books. He has participated in exhibitions across the southern states and in Washington D.C. Aaron is currently in North Carolina focusing on his project Native Place.
Find more of his work here.