Uzzle Buzz: Just Down the Road

“Uzzle Buzz” is a series of blog posts, written by various authors, that respond to or comment on some aspect of our exhibition All About America: Photographs by Burk Uzzle.

Molly Irwin is a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill, double-majoring in Biology and Studio Art. She is the Photography and Design Intern for the Carolina Asia Center. 

Anyone who has ever been on a road trip knows those long stretches where there is seemingly nothing to see. Endless trees line the sides of the road and a great expanse of highway lies ahead. Making good time guarantees seeing this same view for 200 miles. However, sometimes the desire to have a little adventure can change this road trip into a journey through American history.

Acland_2008.3.51, 7/23/14, 11:26 AM, 8C, 3476x4042 (559+1018), 58%, Feb'13, 1/25 s, R53.9, G26.0, B35.1

Burk Uzzle, American, born 1938: Star Warehouse, South Carolina, 1997,1997; gelatin silver print. Ackland Art Museum: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Anonymous Gift, 2008.3.51.

Burk Uzzle’s more recent photography grants a glimpse into the life of a person who chooses to take the roads less traveled. Uzzle’s mission to find and document the everyday sites around the nation has allowed him to come across treasures that are rich in history, such as the scene of Star Warehouse, South Carolina, 1997.

This photograph evokes the memories of a once bustling town that was bypassed as time and progress marched ever onward. This little town is no longer one that is consistently driven through on road trips, but one that must be found by deviating from the interstate. The lack of cars and people along with the lonely Star Warehouse, water tower, and buildings create a sense of passing. Continue reading

Uzzle Buzz: Mirror Mirror, Man Men

“Uzzle Buzz” is a series of blog posts, written by various authors, that respond to or comment on some aspect of our exhibition All About America: Photographs by Burk Uzzle.

elin o’Hara slavick is Professor of Studio Art, Theory and Practice in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Art.

On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling was executed by a police officer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for selling CDs in the street. Eric Garner was killed in 2014 for selling loose cigarettes. Like so many others, their crime in the eyes of cops was to be black in a racist country. (Had they been white, chances are they would still be alive today.) No justice for Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland. I can’t breathe. Black lives matter.

Burk Uzzle, American, born 1938: Mirror Image, Peace Demonstration, New Haven, 1970, 1970; gelatin silver print. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Anonymous Gift, 2008.3.23. © Burk Uzzle.

All the men visible in Burk Uzzle’s photograph Mirror Image, Peace Demonstration, New Haven, 1970 are white—two civilians and police officers. We can imagine that if the two activists holding the mirror up were black, the officers would not be lazily leaning against a tree.

We assume Uzzle’s photograph is of peace activists protesting the Vietnam War (or the American War as it is known in Vietnam). During that war, and the many wars since, the United States government and military (thanks to our tax dollars) are responsible for countless deaths, mostly civilians—from Korea and Cambodia to Iraq and Afghanistan. This action—of holding up a mirror so that men in uniform can see themselves confronting (policing) people just like them—did not bring about peace despite the activists’ sincere gesture towards a shared humanity.

I have often thought if we could just reach the gun manufacturers, the companies profiting from the sale of weapons systems, and show them how an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, we could end this perpetual cycle of war and violence. But I have yet to make contact with a gun or weapons manufacturer. Continue reading

Uzzle Buzz: Sharp Elbows

“The way to be a good news photographer is to have sharp elbows. You have to get in the middle. If you’re in the middle, you have the feeling of it.” — Burk Uzzle, 23 June 2016

Burk Uzzle, American, born 1938: All Hands for Peace, Peace Demonstration, New Haven, 1970, 1970; gelatin silver print. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Anonymous Gift, 2008.3.28.
Burk Uzzle, American, born 1938: All Hands for Peace, Peace Demonstration, New Haven, 1970, 1970; gelatin silver print. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Anonymous Gift, 2008.3.28. © Burk Uzzle.

“Uzzle Buzz” is a series of blog posts, written by various authors, that respond to or comment on some aspect of our exhibition All About America: Photographs by Burk Uzzle.

Uzzle Buzz: Woodstock, Flag Pants, and Rolling Stone

“Uzzle Buzz” is a series of blog posts, written by various authors, that respond to or comment on some aspect of our exhibition All About America: Photographs by Burk Uzzle.

Dennis Hermanson is a retired illustrator and graphic designer active in the Hillsborough and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, arts community. He is presently on the Board of the Hillsborough Arts Council, a member of the Ackland Art Museum, and a friend of many fine photographers and artists.

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Burk Uzzle, American, born 1938: Woodstock (Crowd in Field with Tent and Trash), 1969; gelatin silver print. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Anonymous Gift, 2008.3.19. © Burk Uzzle.

Me at Woodstock? It all happened by accident.

Going to NYU, I lived for three years on East Seventh Street, overlooking the Fillmore East, the East Coast counterpart to the famed Fillmore West, so I sure didn’t feel the need to go to the middle of New York State to see a cow pasture with a music stage. But my blood-brother, Richard, insisted.

Richard was a model, designer, writer. He had worked for Electra Records and hung out with Janis Joplin. I was a cartoonist and illustrator with a group called Cloud Studio, which went on to do the National Lampoon when it began. So we were free, and went to Woodstock early Thursday to beat the crowd. Continue reading

Uzzle Buzz: Photojournalist Burk and Artist Burk

“Uzzle Buzz” is a series of blog posts, written by various authors, that respond to or comment on some aspect of our exhibition All About America: Photographs by Burk Uzzle.

Born in Raleigh in 1938, Burk Uzzle is a world-renowned photographer whose work is being shown at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and the Ackland Art Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill during the summer of 2016. Learn more about him on his website: burkuzzle.com

Photojournalist Burk and Artist Burk. Both are the same person, otherwise one would be counterfeit.

Both remember, always, the advice of Henri Cartier Bresson: “The most important thing you can do is respect your subject.”

As photography can be a love affair with life, my life is also a love affair with the medium.

Early on I strived for the simple, declarative statement, with a touch of drama for impact. Editors’ needs became the glasses through which I viewed the world. Those were the early LIFE magazine years, 1961 to 1967. They had moved me to the Chicago bureau, and my free time was spent at the Art Institute of Chicago, looking at paintings. Another LIFE photographer offered me advice: “Shoot every picture for the managing editor.” This conflicted with the inspirational individuality I saw across mediums at the museum. Continue reading

Uzzle Buzz: Wordless Wednesday

Burk Uzzle, American, born 1938: <i>Bring Us Together, Peace Demonstration, Washington, D.C., 1970</i>

Burk Uzzle, American, born 1938: Bring Us Together, Peace Demonstration, Washington, D.C., 1970, 1970; gelatin silver print. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Anonymous Gift, 2008.3.31. © Burk Uzzle.

“Uzzle Buzz” is a series of blog posts, written by various authors, that respond to or comment on some aspect of our exhibition All About America: Photographs by Burk Uzzle.