Home Funeral


Adams, Shelby Lee




One of a series of photographs taken by American environmental portrait photographer, Shelby Lee Adams, to reveal and commemorate Appalachian family life, “Home Funeral” depicts the funeral of Esther Renee Adams, better known as “Mamaw”. As was tradition in many Appalachian families, Mamaw's funeral took place in her own home in Eastern Kentucky where country wakes could last for days. Adams' photograph inspires discussion about family, poverty, connection, tradition, and need.

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Connection and RelationshipCrisis and ConflictHeritage and TraditionIdentity and CommunityLove and CompassionMoney and WealthPoverty and NeedSpeech and Expression

Big Questions

What is poverty, how should we respond to it?How do we recognize need?

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. How would you describe the young girls in the photo?
  2. How would you describe the looks on the character's faces? Do their eyes speak?
  3. What kinds of relationships do you see in this image? How would you describe them?
  4. Does anything trouble or concern you in this image? What and why?
  5. Where do you see trust in this image? Where do you see fear?
  6. Why take a photograph of a “home funeral”?
  7. Is this a picture of “poverty” or something else? What clues are available to you to decide?
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