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The Mural Room, November 2005. All photos by Ken Abbott

Intactness and Continuity

Artist: Ken Abbott

Project: Useful Work

Description: In 2004, Ken Abbott chaperoned his daughter’s preschool class on a field trip to Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Astonished by the beauty of the house and the site, and particularly the old inn, which, he writes, “had an intactness and continuity with its past that was rare and notable,” over the next five years, Abbott returned to the farm to photograph it and learn more about its history. Jim and Elizabeth McClure established the farm in 1918, and their descendants operate it today.

“Everybody wants beauty,” Elizabeth wrote in a letter to Jim prior to their marriage. “It seems always to quicken your sense of being alive and that means happiness and peace and a blessed conviction that you are really necessary in the scheme of things.”

Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm is available through Abbott’s website.

Eyes on the South is curated by Jeff Rich. The weekly series features selections of current work from Southern artists, or artists whose photography concerns the South. To submit your work to the series, email Jeff at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ken Abbott

Ken Abbott grew up along the front range of Colorado, and received his MFA in photography from Yale University in 1987. He was the principal photographer for University of Colorado at Boulder for fifteen years. He now lives with his family in Asheville, North Carolina, and received a NC Arts Council Fellowship Award for his photography at Hickory Nut Gap Farm, in 2006. Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm, was published in 2015 and is his first book. View more of his work on his website and on Instagram @Useful_Work.