Marty Stuart has access to amazing subject matter, but this alone does not guarantee a great photograph. To create intriguing photographs that inspire the viewer to pause, reflect and sometimes laugh requires far more than the reception of interesting and famous people. While Stuart's respect for the people he photographs produces the foundation on which each image is based, it is his ability to aptly frame his subjects within their environments, his sensibility to the light that embraces (or deserts) them, and his sense of timing -- his instinct for capturing what French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson coined "The Decisive Moment" that makes much of Stuart's work remarkable.

In curating this exhibit for a museum instead of a commercial project, Marty Stuart and I had the unique opportunity to choose photographs based on their artistic merit, giving how images were photographed as much consideration as who appeared in them. After viewing thousands of images on contact sheets, I was continually drawn to those whose formal qualities of light, framing and composition shone; the way the geometric shapes repeat themselves in The Extremely Cool Words of Howard Finster; the serene halo of light in My Uncle Gerald; the ominous shadows that dapple You Don't Know How It Feels To Be Me as well as the simple abstract backdrops in The King of Broken Hearts, Emmy and Rose, and A. Howard Hughes, B. Jimmy Hoffa, C. Amelia Earhart. In addition to these visual criteria, images were chosen to reflect the feeling of intimacy and sense of community Stuart shared with us his subjects whether they are fans, friends, collaborators or family.

I would like to thank Marty for his generosity during the curatorial process. I would also like to thank Nashville artist, John Folsom, for his input and assistance in curating this exhibit.

Terri Smith

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