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A Certain Alchemy

A Certain Alchemy
Introduction by Bill Wittliff; afterword by Pat Carter

A gallery of haunting, evocative new work by internationally acclaimed photographer Keith Carter.

Series: Southwestern and Mexican Photography Series, The Wittliff Collections, The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University; Bill Wittliff, Series Editor

October 2008
This book is out of print and no longer available.
184 pages | 12 x 12 | 102 photos |

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Lauded as "a transcendent realist" and "a poet of the ordinary," Keith Carter is an internationally acclaimed photographer whose work has been shown in over one hundred solo exhibitions in thirteen countries. At first finding his subjects in the familiar, yet exotic, places and people of his native East Texas, Carter has since expanded his range not only geographically, but also into realms of dreams and imagination, where objects of the mundane world open glimpses into ineffable realities.

In A Certain Alchemy, his tenth book, Keith Carter explores relationships that are timeless, enigmatic, and mythological. Drawing from the animal world, popular culture, folklore, and religion, Carter presents photographs that attempt to reflect hidden meanings in the real world. Accompanying the images is an introduction by Carter's friend and fellow photographer Bill Wittliff, who describes Carter's artistic journey and the epiphanies he has experienced. Patricia Carter, Keith's wife and muse, also offers her insights into the wellsprings of his work.

In Keith Carter's own words, "A Certain Alchemy is a collection of imperfect observations of the relationship we have to our ideas of place, time, memory, desire, and regret. It is an anthology of oblique angles and awkward pauses that examines the history of photography and our own shared natural histories."


Keith Carter holds the endowed Walles Chair of Art at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and is the recipient of the Lange-Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. He is the author of nine previous books: Opera Nuda, Ezekiel's Horse, Holding Venus, Keith Carter Photographs: Twenty-Five Years, Bones, Heaven of Animals, Mojo, The Blue Man, and From Uncertain to Blue. A DVD documentary of his work titled The Photographer's Series: Keith Carter was produced by Anthropy Arts in 2006. Carter's work is included in numerous private and public collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the George Eastman House; and the Wittliff Collections' Southwestern & Mexican Photography Collection.

Bill Wittliff is a distinguished photographer and writer whose photographs have been published in A Book of Photographs from Lonesome Dove, La Vida Brinca, and Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy and exhibited in the United States and abroad. With his wife, Sally, he founded the highly regarded Wittliff Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos, which include the Southwestern & Mexican Photography Collection and the Southwestern Writers Collection.