Common Ground is an investigation into the land my grandfather and great-grandfather documented years ago at the heart of William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County. By revisiting this region I set out to uncover the mystery and myth that surround the land. As I wander through the Lafayette county roads my eye is drawn to moments where literal and imagined histories are evoked. In documenting the land and its inhabitants I am not only attempting link myself with a photographic heritage, but better understand how myth has shaped the current state of this culture in Mississippi.
Growing up in a family rooted five generations deep in photographic history I developed an appreciation for photography at an early age. Film photography was present throughout my life hanging on walls and stacked between pages on our coffee tables. My grandfather and great-grandfather taught me to appreciate the art of making a photograph with a 4x5 camera through their published book of William Faulkner's portraits.
This history, fiction, literature and photography continue to surround my own artistic practice. Studying photographers such as William Christenberry, Sally Mann and growing up down the street from Eggleston served to reinforce my romanticized view of the American South. Place, myth, folklore and romance surround my work. They are qualities derived as a product of my upbringing in the South, and serve to further my own understanding of home.
As I have embraced these characteristics I continue to use them as modes to process my own work. Using the myth as a lens to see landscapes I encounter my work attempts to cultivate the history that is psychologically embedded in a particular landscape while adding my own layer of fiction to a place. The act of merging fact and fiction helps to identify the interplay between these two constructs. In doing so, my work helps to familiarize me with the culture I am working within by creating an understanding of how actual and imagined histories shape a landscape and its inhabitants.
To a certain degree I envision myself as an author using the settings around me to construct a historical fiction. Pulling from history my work seeks to evoke certain occurrences and myths to create a new layer of fiction that is pertinent to the region in which I am working. Employing traditional techniques of documentation through the use of photographs, video, text and artifacts my work seeks to construct a new narrative that is an extension of both history and myth.
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