Photographer and filmmaker Kendall Messick first visited the rural community of Corapeake, N.C., in October 1995 to capture photos of a friend's aging relatives. He would spend the next seven years returning to this community along the North Carolina-Virginia border to preserve the memories and stories of a place that would not let him go.
"I believe that the stories at the core of the Corapeake documentary and exhibition are universal in depicting a way of life that was typical in rural areas of America during the early- to middle-20th century," says Messick, who focused on African-Americans ranging in age from 60 to 109.
Messick's black-and-white silver gelatin photos are gripping glimpses into the soul of his subjects—stark yet warm, the simplicities and complexities of his subjects are hard to turn away from. "Aunt Sarah" is an arresting example of the power of his lens. —Rebekah L. Cowell