As I roam around the farmland and small communities near my hometown, I always feel a sense of history, of place. Four thousand years ago a civilization thrived here, one that archaeologists believe was the largest in North America at that time. They built intricate earthworks, gathered nuts and acorns, hunted game, fished the bayous, worshipped their gods. As I stand here today, layers above the dirt that was theirs, I feel them, hear their voices, walk above their footsteps.
We are descended from those early settlers, if not by blood then through the land that we share. I can sift through what they left behind, objects that lie in a small museum that is surrounded by cotton fields, and read words written by the archaeologists who have studied them. And I feel that I know them, or at least the shadows of them. So, too, do I sift through what is built into the land that is here now: the fields and farms, gins and churches, schools, stores and diners. We still base our economy on the land … the new sweet potato plant, the possibility of a rice mill. We still pull fish from the water. We still build temples to whatever god we worship.
My photographs are about the contemporary culture of northeastern Louisiana, one that is still attached to this ancient dirt, never able to stretch too far before being snapped back by the root. And they are about the lives being lived here, today.
This collection of images is an effort to condense that idea into a short essay and to create an introduction to my larger body of work.