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Photographer Andrew Kilgore shares photos of Fayetteville from the 70s


A longtime local photographer who is known nationally for his portrait work has unearthed a lost selection of candid street photography from the 1970s around Fayetteville.

Photographer Andrew Kilgore shared a handful of his favorite images from the rediscovered set with the Flyer recently, and they are embedded above and below.

Kilgore, who celebrated his 83rd birthday earlier this month, has been documenting the people of Arkansas for most of his adult life.

Born in Virginia, he moved to Fayetteville in 1971 after serving in the Peace Corps in India. He purchased his first camera in Hong Kong while on holiday during the trip, he said, and began developing his signature style shortly after that.

Photo: Andrew Kilgore

He began photographing students while he worked at a school for the developmentally disabled in Austin, Texas, and after that, was headed to San Francisco before a stop-off in Fayetteville to visit friends turned into a much longer stay than he anticipated.

He set up a studio in Fayetteville during the 1970s and also worked as a professor of photography at the University of Arkansas and as a freelancer for The Grapevine, a small weekly newspaper.

After being let go from his job at the UA, he said, due to his lack of formal education in photography, Kilgore began making portraits as a way to support his family. He started an art project called Fayetteville Townfolk Portfolio Project, where he began photographing the people of his new hometown in his arresting, signature style of portraiture.

Kilgore has always been interested in all different types of people, and the idea behind the Fayetteville Townfolk project was to capture a cross-section of the entire community at that time.

“I photographed people from the most affluent people in the community to the poorest,” he said.

Photo: Andrew Kilgore

Typically shot in black-and-white, with a neutral backdrop usually provided by a simple piece of cloth, Kilgore’s portraits are instantly recognizable. The plain background combined with Andrew’s good nature that puts his subjects at ease allows the portraits a unique kind of life that is difficult to quantify.

Eye contact with the camera is another characteristic of his portraits that – for lack of a better explanation – drip with the humanity and sparkle with the personality of the subjects.

In addition to his Fayetteville Townsfolk project, Kilgore is known for his collection of photographs of people with developmental disabilities titled We Drew A Circle, a collection commissioned by the Youth at Risk project in Little Rock, which was funded by the Annie Casey Foundation, an exhibit created as part of the state of Arkansas’s sesquicentennial celebration called Arkansas People, and others.

The rediscovered images shared with the Flyer this week were mostly taken during Kilgore’s time with The Grapevine. The images were unearthed at the request of a client, he said, and he realized there are likely others who might be interested in them.

Continue reading / see more photos at Fayetteville Flyer

Photo: Andrew Kilgore

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Dustin Bartholomew is the co-founder of Fayetteville Flyer, an online publication covering all things news, art and life in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 2007. A graduate of the Department of English at the University of Arkansas and a lifelong resident of the area, he still lives in east Fayetteville with his son Hudson, daughter Evelyn, his wife Brandy, and his two dogs Lily and Steve. On occasion, he tickles the ivories in a local band called The Good Fear.

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