Skip to main content

Texas Folklife Announces New Exhibit: "The Upshaws of County Line," Opening May 10




Gallery Exhibit Opening and Reception, Thursday, May 10


Featured in West Austin Studio Tour, May 12-13 and May 19-20



Austin, Texas – April 20, 2018 –Texas Folklife will refresh its exhibit space this spring with The Upshaws of County Line. The exhibit opening will be Thursday, May 10, from 6:00-7:30 in the evening. 


The exhibit features photographs and oral history collected by documentary photographer Richard Orton between the years of 1988-2009, and follows the Upshaws, an African American family in the rural East Texas community of County Line. The exhibit is based on Orton’s 2014 book, The Upshaws of County Line, An American Family, which documents and explores many facets of this multigenerational family. The book has a preface by historian Thad Sitton, which situates the community of County Line in Texas freedom colony history, and an introduction by noted photography curator Roy Flukinger who compares Orton’s work with the great documentarian Russell Lee.   

The photographer and author Richard Orton as well as community member Elia Ali will be in attendance at the opening reception to discuss the work and share stories about the project, the Upshaws, and the community of County Line today.


Although the opening reception is free, please RSVP:


“Oral history and documentary photography are the tools of the trade for folklorists,” said Texas Folklife Executive Director Charlie Lockwood. “In this upcoming exhibit The Upshaws of County Line, Richard Orton has employed both of these tools beautifully to try and understand and present to the viewer the complex and dynamic history of this resilient family. His book is a major contribution to understanding the cultural history of Texas. We are very pleased to share these photographs and stories with our Texas Folklife members, guests, and visitors.”


This event and exhibit are made possible in part by the board and members of Texas Folklife, and by grants from the Texas Commission on the Arts with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, and the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. The exhibit is courtesy of Stephen F. Austin State University and Richard Orton. Installation is by Rebecca Bingman.



Parking is available in Texas Folklife's gravel driveway, on the street immediately in front of the building, and Asterra Properties (located next door). Overflow parking is available at Recycled Reads (5335 Burnet Rd). Please use spaces in the back or on the south side of the Recycled Reads building.


West Austin Studio Tour

On two weekends in May (May 12-13 and May 19-20), from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. this exhibit will be featured as part of Big Medium’s West Austin Studio Tour. The tour is a free, annual, self-guided art event held on two weekends in May. This is the 7th annual tour. More information here:



The Upshaws of County Line will be on display at the Texas Folklife Gallery from May 10 to July 27, 2018. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. and by appointment. 


Photo and poster courtesy of Texas Folklife:

Texas Folklife

Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. Since 1984, Texas Folklife has honored the cultural traditions passed down within communities, explored their importance in contemporary society, and celebrated them by providing accessible and joyful arts experiences. 


1708 Houston St.

Austin, Texas 78756

T (512) 441-9255

F (844) 386-2091



Media information: Sheree Scarborough (512) 922-5483 /