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Artist Statement – Harvest – Handmade Book

I grew a garden for three summers when I lived in Athens, Georgia. The first garden generated a small plot of potatoes about the size of a double bed. The next year I grew more potatoes while adding turnips, collards, peppers and watermelons. Tailgaters stole the peppers and melons on game day as caterpillars progressively ate their way through the turnips and collards I failed to consume myself or trade for fried chicken with the soul food restaurant in front of my house. The garden grew bigger and more plentiful each year. The soil became rich from continually mulching in the giant tea bags I got everyday at closing time from the restaurant. The grocery co-op in town had sunflower seeds for sale the third summer. Many of these flowers became a deep red I had never seen before. Their stalks grew ten feet tall before falling over in the wind.

The constant success of my potatoes inspired me to plant other underground foods, including carrots. It was a busy spring and I never thinned the rows. During the harvest I discovered two carrots firmly wrapped around one another. I washed them off, made a quick snapshot and gave them as a present that night to the girl I was dating at the time. I have tried since then to grow more intertwined carrots to photograph, but have not been able to come close to the success I had with that original garden in Athens.

One summer I photographed dozens of tree roots on the bank of a creek. I thought about how people stay in an area when it provides something they need, but move on when things dry up. I bounced back and forth between New Mexico and Georgia for years after leaving my full time job in Athens. I was never in one place long enough to plant and harvest a garden. My wandering went on to include Italy and Maine before reaching my current residence in Louisiana. It is only during the past few summers that again I have been able to harvest potatoes and carrots and other plants that grow down into the ground.

Several of my garden images challenge conventional notions of beauty. A plant blown down in a storm that has the perseverance to grow back up again is more beautiful to me than one that grows straight, yet lacks character. Some of my photographs are constructed images where I consciously decide what to discard and what to keep. Other images are simply my documentation of what I see as being notable, whether it is good, bad or something I realize is impermanent and will be seen by others only if I take the time to save it in the small way I can.

The pieces I make have particular meaning to me, but I understand other people will see them in their own way. My photographs are not necessarily created to illustrate or provide answers. If anything, I would like for my images to generate more questions. I do not see them as endpoints, but rather starting places where I give the viewer ideas to ponder and allow room for their imagination to create the rest of the story.

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