Gallery wall of exhibit photographs

Exhibit of Early Floyd County Photographs

The Old Church Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit of Floyd County photographs taken by Gertrue and Richard Shank, Sr. The exhibit, entitled Kindly Mirrors: The Photography of Richard “Dick” Shank & Gertrue Vest Shank, looks back on Floyd County life through the lens of thirty, large-format prints taken by the Shanks between 1912 and 1917. The original camera was a gift to Gertrue from her brother Cleo, possibly before her 1913 marriage to Dick. During this time period, the introduction of the inexpensive Kodak Brownie box camera made photography a popular pastime nationwide, although amateur photographers were still uncommon in Floyd County. The Shanks created their own darkroom to develop their prints.

Among the 160 negatives preserved by generations of the Shank family are scenes from the farm Dick and Gertrue were renting (now Riverstone Farm), as well as the Shank and Vest farms in the Stonewall and Flint communities, Little River District of Floyd County. The subjects of these images, family, farm life, and neighbors, are typical of rural America in the 1910s. But the thoughtful, playful perspectives of the couple who made them set these pictures apart from an ordinary album of a century ago.   

Note: The title of the exhibit was inspired by a section of Vladimir Nabokov’s A Guide to Berlin:

I think that here lies the sense of literary creation–to portray ordinary objects as they will be reflected in the kindly mirrors of future times; to find in the objects around us the fragrant tenderness that only posterity will discern and appreciate in the far-off times when every trifle of our plain everyday life will become exquisite and festive in its own right…

More photos from the Shank archive (not in exhibit):

Gallery open hours to view the exhibit:

  • Fridays — 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturdays — 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Kindly Mirrors: The Photography of Richard “Dick” Shank & Gertrue Vest Shank exhibit at the Old Church Gallery was curated by Ricky Cox, Catherine Pauley, and Alice Slusher.

More information about the Shank Collection of photographs can be found in the record for the Shank Photograph Collection in our database. There are also additional photos on that page.

The Old Church Gallery is located at 110 Wilson Street in Floyd, behind Finders Keepers. For more details about how to find us, see our Location and Hours page.