Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography 2011 Finalist Nancy Newberry Mum

Project Summary: Artificial, shiny, spirited and virtually unknown outside of Texas, the Homecoming Mum is an elaborate corsage, or for the boys, a garter worn on the arm. Exchanged between friends, The Mum consists of a large silk flower decorated with long glittery ribbons and other trinkets, which indicate the wearer's interests, social standing, and allegiances to friends. Mums are proudly worn for all activities on Homecoming Friday, and then immortalized as trophies on bedroom walls all over Texas. Each year the collection grows with a more elaborate Mum, marking progress and personal history.

As both adornment and insignia, the Mum offers its wearer the opportunity to promote self-image, while identifying their status an integral member of their particular community. At a time when many American high schoolers seem actively disengaged from the world around them, the Homecoming Mum constitutes both a unique act of cultural immersion, and a specific brand of Texas folk art.

Shot slowly and based on interpretation of memory, I have limited the settings of the photographs to in an around the subject's personal space, to further contain and charge the portraits through confines of the subject's own making.

Congratulations to all of the Finalists in the 2011 Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography

Newberry's Project Proposal

All images © Nancy Newberry