Shelby Lee Adams is a Kentucky-born American photographer. While attending the Cleveland Institute of Art, Adams was exposed to the photographs of the Farm Security Administration, which documented the effects of the Great Depression on the American South in the 1930s. These images and their subjects, in part, inspired Adams to begin photographing the people and culture of Appalachia, where he grew up. Begun in 1973 and continuing to the present day, this exhaustive photographic survey has been Adams’ primary focus for the duration of his career, and has garnered him much critical acclaim. He is the recipient of a survey grant and photography fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, along with an artist support grant from the Polaroid Corporation. His photographs are held in the permanent collections of museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Shelby Lee Adams (b. 1950)