The Way Home
Photographs from the Heart of Texas
Texana - Photography
9 x 12, 160 pp.
71 duotone plates.
Pub Date: 07/01/1992
Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Texas Photography Series
Price:        $24.50


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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The Way Home

Photographs from the Heart of Texas

By Bryan Woolley
Photography by June Redford Van Cleef

Sometimes the only way home is through the family scrapbook. June Van Cleef gives us another way: through her dramatic, poignant, and time-capturing photographs. In her sometimes bold, sometimes subtle images she finds the universal home of her rural upbringing--the farm and ranch scenes, the small town shops and churches, the family reunions, and the character-lined faces that formed us.

With a fine photographer's eye, she frames for us the everyday life that made a place Home. The seventy pictures were taken in and around Hamilton, the county seat of Hamilton County in the gentle hills of Central Texas. Scenes of Hico, Fairy, Carlton, Pottsville, Shive, Aleman, and other parts of the county show the people engaged in their daily lives and capture the essence of rural life in Texas today, as well as the essence of the culture --at once individualistic and communitarian--from which most of today's city dwellers sprang.

In his crisply moving introductory essay, Bryan Woolley presents the perspective of those who want to find the way home–but not to stay. "Not to work there as their parents and grandparents did. Not to try to wrestle a living from the stubborn soil in the old way. To build a little weekend retreat in the country someday, maybe. To go hunting or fishing. To try to find old landmarks that still live in memory. To visit the graves of their forebears." And to show their children the home that gave rise to them.

It is a way we can all go as we savor the photographs of this particular home.

June Van Cleef is a professional photographer and professor of photography at Collin County Community College. She spent her high school years in Hamilton before earning a bachelor's degree in art from Sul Ross State State University and a master's degree in art from North Texas State University. She has studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology.Bryan Woolley, a native of the Carlton community in Hamilton County, is a popular feature writer for the Dallas Morning News and the author of several books.

What Readers Are Saying:

"Each of these images is like a root sunk deep in Ms. Van Cleef's own fondly remembered past . . . " --Dallas Life Magazine

“A photographic essay of the once-vibrant and closeknit rural community of Hamilton County in central Texas. . . . Bryan Woolley, a writer for the Dallas Morning News, sets the mood with a nostalgic introduction about his childhood in Carlton, Texas. Recommended for rural sociology collections." --Library Journal

”June Van Cleef's portraits of people and places in the rural communities of Hamilton County in Central Texas have their own spare, elegiac strength. The Way Home is a fine collection of photographs honoring small-town, agrarian America. It is the work of a compassionate photographer who carefully observed the life of Hamilton County over a decade (1978-1988)." --Laura Wilson

"What is striking in the three Oates photographs and in the one of Charlie Murphee is how much at home the subjects are with their environments. In fact, one of the most dramatic things the photographs do is to forcce the viewer to experience how, at the same time, the subjects humanize their environments and are defined by those environments. . . . That world, and Bryan Woolley's fine introductory essay makes this abundantly clear, was and is, back-breaking and unforgiving. . . . These people may be our contemporaries, but they are from another world." --Texas Books in Review


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