Like her photographs, Joyce McMurtrey has deep roots in the Missouri Ozarks. A native of Columbia, MO, Joyce has spent the past four decades in Wright County. Together with her husband, Joyce farmed 75 acres of grapes near Mountain Grove. After the birth of her daughter in 1986, Joyce bought a camera. What began as an attempt to capture her family’s life on the farm grew into a passion that can be seen in her powerful portraits of the people and places she calls home.
King of the Ozarks began from Joyce’s curiosity to discover more details about an almost mythical person, H. King Davis, and a wish to meet her neighbors. Over four years, the project evolved into a collection of portraits and profiles from interviews Joyce conducted with this multi-generational African American family who’ve farmed in southern Missouri since the Homestead Act.