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An Uncommon Retrospective

By Jesse Campbell (

Article Published: Sep. 5, 2013 | Modified: Sep. 5, 2013
An Uncommon Retrospective

'Unto These Hills dancer, circa 1954' by Hugh Morton

Photo submitted

There are more than 250,000 images in Hugh Morton’s vaunted photography collection — many of which have never been seen.

To give light to these rare and likely soon-to-be distinguished works of art, Appalachian State University’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts is holding a special exhibit to honor the late photographer and champion of Grandfather Mountain.

Titled “Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective,” the exhibit is an encapsulating portrait of Morton and his varied interests in photography.

“It is quite a variety,” said exhibit organizer Stephen Fletcher, a photographic archivist at the University of North Carolina. “A rough breakdown would be examples of his early work, a number of landscapes, and there are also some sports and events, as well as his photojournalism work.”

His career spans decades and a plethora of genres that include the natural world, sports, landscape, scenery and portraiture, Fletcher said.

Through tireless hours of researching and finding images, Fletcher said he was able to piece together various negatives to produce a seven-foot long panoramic view from atop Mt. Jefferson in Ashe County.

While compiling the exhibit, which took nearly two years to complete, Fletcher said he was impressed by the “diversity of the kind of work” that Morton undertook.

“He had a variety of things that we would photograph,” Fletcher said. “He didn’t stick to one style or genre. That was the biggest impression. The quality of his images is just splendid.”

Fletcher said the “biggest challenge” in deciding which images to include from the immense collection was fielding the appropriate pictures that accurately represented his work in retrospective fashion. How to make all of those pieces fit and complement one or another was cumbersome in itself, he said.

“I was trying to find the images that haven’t been published before or if it was it was published many years ago,” Fletcher said. “I looked for things that had not been presented before. A lot of those images were published in the state magazine, so I spent a long time looking through those magazines. A lot of it was directive research, while others were serendipity when I came across something else that was really interesting.”

The exhibition runs through Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Galleries A and B at the Turchin Center.
The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts is located at 423 W. King St. in downtown Boone. For more information, call (828) 262-3017 or visit

Additional Images

'Unto These Hills dancer, circa 1954' by Hugh Morton
Photo submitted

‘David Brinkley on dock in Wilmington’ by Hugh Morton
Photo submitted

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