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Home » News » Builder Levy Provides an Unforgettable Glimpse of 1970s Appalachia in Newest MoFA Exhibition

Builder Levy Provides an Unforgettable Glimpse of 1970s Appalachia in Newest MoFA Exhibition

Published January 29, 2016

February 12 – March 27, 2016


Builder Levy, Toby Moore, Old House Branch Mine, Eastern Coal Company, Pike County, Kentucky, 1970, Gold-toned gelatin silver print

New York-based photographer Builder Levy presents life and labor in coal mining communities in Appalachia USA, published in 2014. The exhibition was organized by The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Levy  will give a lecture on February 25, 2016, at 7:00pm in Lecture Hall 249 of the Fine Arts Building.

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, Builder Levy (born in Tampa in 1942 and raised in Brooklyn), makes hand printed gold-toned gelatin silver print and platinum print photographs that blend fine art, social documentary, and street photography “to produce works of power and beauty.” Initially, while still a student at Brooklyn College, Levy thought of himself as an abstract expressionist, but by the time he had obtained his Master’s degree in art education from NYU, he was focusing mainly on making photographs in his need to be more deeply immersed in the social realities of his time, and in his desire to physically create a new consciousness in and of the world.

Appalachia USA, Builder Levy’s new book, reprints 69 of his photographs from the coalfields. Some portray historic coal towns like Welch, along with pictures of nearby tipples and churches. The book offers an array of powerful images of men and women working underground in mines across the coalfields in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, in places like Mingo and Wyoming counties. Other pictures show miners heading home after the end of their shifts in places like Kayford Branch Mine on Cabin Creek.


Builder Levy, Coal Camp, near Grundy, Buchanan County, Virginia, 1970, Gold-toned gelatin silver print

-Paul J. Nyden at Charleston Gazette-Mail

Levy’s work is in more than eighty collections including the Sir Elton John Photography Collection, International Center of Photography, Brooklyn Museum, The Ringling Museum of Art, and Victoria and Albert Museum.

His photographs have appeared in more than two hundred exhibitions, including more than fifty one-person shows. The High Museum of Art included him in Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956–1968.

Levy photographed life in coalfield Appalachia over more than four decades. For almost fifty years he photographed life in inner-city communities, where, for thirty-five years, he was a NYC teacher of at-risk teens.

Photographer Builder Levy’s Appalachia USA also presented at The Ringling July of 2015. View the original post here.

Dates & Hours: Opening February 12, 2016, 6-8pm; closing March 27, 2016 at The Museum of Fine Arts. The Artist will lecture on February 25, 2016, at 7:00pm in Lecture Hall 249 of the Fine Arts Building (FAB).

MoFA Hours: M-F 9am – 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 1pm – 4 pm both days, but closed March 5 and 12.  Please dial 644-6836 for an update or visit online:   Museum of Fine Arts, 530 W. Call St., Tallahassee, FL 32306.
Parking: Metered parking on the lower level of the adjacent Call Street Garage M-F 8-4:30 pm (access from Macomb Street). After 4:30, and on weekends, all legal spaces are available to visitors.