Papa Caffery, Debbie Fleming  (American, b.1948)

Debbie Fleming Caffery is an American photographer, known internationally for her documentary work of Louisiana. Emotional and mythic vision pervade Caffery’s captivating images. Her photographs are not objective documents, but poetic stories that capture the mystery and spirit of the people and places she encounters. Caffery is most comfortable in the shadows, drawn to movement, pattern, and deep tonality making photogravure an ideal medium to translate her vision.

Debbie Fleming Caffery’s Papa is a powerful image regardless. But when printed in photogravure, it is taken to another level. The combination of the low tones, the ‘smokey’ subject matter and matte black ink convey a mystery and spirit that would otherwise have been impossible to achieve.⁠

Caffery collaborated with Renaissance Press and Howard Greenberg Gallery in the production, which Greenberg says was so difficult that they almost gave up.⁠

Caffery’s photography has garnered praise for nearly twenty years, and has been included in exhibitions from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. to the Photo Gallery International, Tokyo. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the George Eastman House, Rochester; the Cleveland Museum of Art; and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France. Four monographs have been published of Caffery’s work: Carry Me Home (Smithsonian, 1990), Polly (Twin Palms, 2002), The Shadows (Twin Palms, 2002), and The Spirit & The Flesh (Radius, 2009). Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, and the Michael P. Smith Documentary Award and Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in 2011.