(This year’s Spotlight on Local Talent series highlights some of the artists being exhibited on our Public Art Project “The Georgia FENCE” on the Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside trail. Every Tuesday at noon in October, check our Instagram live for a brief interview that will illuminate the stories behind these compelling photo projects and connect you with these exceptional local artists.)
According to the Oxford dictionary, Affrilachian refers to African Americans who are native to or reside in the Appalachian mountains. Theirs is a story of oppression, hardship, and abuse by the predominant white culture that overshadows them. It is also a story of triumph over those challenges, with family bonds and churches providing the most vital forms of refuge. Once thriving communities, now only remnants of Affrilachians remain.
In 2016, Berry began documenting these communities in northern Georgia and western North Carolina with hope of creating an historical record of a fading subculture. The Appalachian experience is not just a white American experience, but a multi-cultural one that has been greatly shaped by Affrilachians, whose ancestors came to the mountains hundreds of years ago.
About the Artist
Chris Aluka Berry is a documentary photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia. His long-form essays challenge cultural norms and stereotypes by exploring race, class, and faith. Berry “takes up residence” in the places where people are; immersing himself in their daily lives. While working as a full-time photojournalist, he was named South Carolina’s Photographer of the Year four times. His work has been published worldwide in newspapers, magazines, books and exhibited in solo and group shows in the Southeast.
Growing up in the American South with an Irish-Catholic mother and African-American father has greatly influenced Berry’s photography; he often documents and seeks to photograph under-represented communities.