Jacob, 1995

Meet Jacob.

When I first glanced at his photograph, I saw a simple black and white of a young boy gazing at the camera. The half-smoked cigarette dangling naturally from the child’s mouth called for a second look. Why was this young child smoking?

This is Jacob Neugent, of the Neugents from Madison, NC. The grandson of, Maime, the matriarch of the Neugents, Jacob’s chubby cheeks and open mouth is captured with the iconic Neugent product perched between his lips. With his round cheeks, dirt-covered face, straight cut hair and old Levi’s shirt he would appear to have the features of a normal 6 year old boy. Jacob is a member of the tobacco-growing Neugents, a family from Madison who grew tobacco. Photographer David Spear began photographing his neighbors, the Neugents, when he lived in Madison in 1987. The Neugents were an extended family of tobacco farmers. Maime, and her son Lee and grandson “Turtle” appear in several of the 70 images that comprise the series published in “The Neugents: Close to Home.” His book was funded by the Phillip Morris Company and a grant given by the Miller Brewing Company of Eden, NC made a donation to the Visual Arts Center in 1997.

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  • North Carolina State University

  • ARTS NC State

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