Photo Series On Hispanics In The Melting Pot Of… Appalachia


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Photo: Pizza and Tamale…new fare in Appalachian country
A Tennessee photographer’s eye-opening project points  the lens squarely at the often overlooked but growing communities of transplants from south of the border now thriving in Appalachia.
Megan King’s dual majors in photography and Spanish led her to meld her two joys in Hispanic Appalachia, a series which captures the vivid world of South-of-the-Border culture nestled among the hills of starkly white Appalachia.
Specifically, King turns her attention to northeast Tennessee, an historically conservative and homogenized region along the North Carolina border that’s dotted with small towns and covered in hills that seem to roll on forever.
Here, she’s captured the surprising sights of a roadside auto garage sporting a sign all in Spanish with everpresent mountains looming in the background. Elsewhere, a woman celebrates the Mexican Day of the Dead with ghostly face paint in Erwin, Tennessee, population 6,000.
While scenes like these stick out in the minds of Americans accustomed to likening the region that stretches from the hills of southern New York to the northern reaches of Georgia to poverty and whiteness and little else.
However, King’s provocative work–while dispelling these presumptions–portrays her Latino subjects as nestled with ease and thriving among the hills. ‘It is important to see that the Hispanic and Appalachian cultures can blend in a nearly indiscernible manner,’ King writes on her website.

An unlikely fit: Hispanic Appalachia is a photo series by Tennessee photographer Megan King which documents the surprising communities of Hispanic Americans living nestled in the hills of Appalachia. Here, an Hispanic woman named Katrina has her face painted for the Day of the Dead in Erwin, Tennessee, a town of 6,000 that sits nearly 2,000 miles from Mexico City


Room for everyone? The central conceit of the work lies in the history of southern Appalachia, one of America’s whitest and most conservative regions

Changing world: Whiteness and poverty are two things that inevitably pop into the minds of many Americans when Appalachia is discussed. However, King notes that the Hispanic population in Tennessee rose a shocking 134 percent in the decade between 2000 and 2010

King tells the Morning News that a local put in a call to police while this photo was taken and told them some Mexicans were stealing a squad car

To view more photos of Hispanics in the heart of Appalachia: