Photographer captures suffering, strength in 'Voices of Gatlinburg'

Photographer Jeremy Cowart is depicting Sevier County wildfire victims back at the sites of their former homes and businesses in a powerful presentation.

Striking images of somber reunions...

Nashville photographer Jeremy Cowart's series "Voices of Gatlinburg" illustrates strength in the face of devastation.

Working through a network of friends, Cowart took people back to their homes after the devastating Nov. 28 fires to reconnect and share what they've lost.

Often they were depicted on a mattress positioned in what remained of their home.

"We tried to always place a mattress where the bedrooms were," he said. "That wasn't always possible due to the destruction."

You can see more of the photos and learn how to help the victims here.

The series is also working to help wildfire victims - sharing a donation page with every photo posted online.

"We're not just blasting out a story. We're tangibly helping them and spreading the word on what their needs are. It’s really fulfilling work,” Cowart said.

Gatlinburg artist Tommy Bullen lost his pottery studio in the fires.

'I’ve saved a few of my sculpture bears," Bullen said, showing off one. "This was for a Christmas order."

He said the time posing in the burned down building reminded him of memories that dated to his childhood.

"I used to make Barbie furniture out of angle iron and scrap pieces,” Bullen said.

For Cowart, the series has been touching and rewarding.

“The very first photo I took of Kirk Fleta, he's the famous musician, it was emotional to see his loss and the devastation. Also, taking photos with Mike Werner -- some of his daughters were seeing the homes for the first time,” Cowart said.

Cowart is confident the people in his photos and in Gatlinburg will recover and move forward.

“People of Gatlinburg are strong and tough, and I have no doubt they'll rebuild in no time,” Cowart said.


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