(American, b. 1952; resides in Minneapolis, MN)
Chuck Avery has long been interested in tourism and tourist attractions, beginning with photographing sightseeing attractions for his senior project at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1976. Avery returned to this interest with renewed vigor twenty-five years later to create several bodies of work, including his series Roadside Anthropology (2010). Roadside Anthropology explores how historical sites and museums throughout the United States interpret and contextualize history in order to institutionalize American cultural memory. While not overtly political, Avery’s photographs question the idealized narratives presented by these institutions and how they inform American identity. His carefully composed images denaturalize the juxtaposition of historical objects and documents with interpretive materials within built museum displays, revealing the complicated and often surreal task of interpreting, contextualizing, and presenting history and culture.
Avery studied architecture at Iowa State University, Ames, IA (1970-1972), and completed a BFA in Photography with honors at Kansas City Art Institute, MO (1977). His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO (2010); Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, WI (solo show, 2009); PaulaBarr Chelsea Gallery, New York, NY (2007); Pingyao International Photography Festival, China (2006); Dougherty Arts Center, Austin, TX (2006-07 and 2008-09); and the Minnesota Center for Photography, Minneapolis (group shows, 2002-03, 2005, 2007; solo show, 2006). His work is held in the collections of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. Avery is the recipient of a 2010-2011 McKnight Fellowship for Photography. Roadside Anthropology (2011) and Landscape of Progress (2008) are available as self-published monographs from Blurb.com.