Southern Fields

“Within the scope of a couple of generation prior to 1870 much of the southern cypress and lowland cedar resources were laid to waste, mush of it never to be regenerated to anything approaching the virginal state. It is still possible in secluded coves in parts of the Appalachia to see the outlines of walnut and chestnut stumps that stretch the imagination, to conceive of the massive trunks that once sprang up from the woodland floor. Many of these decaying shells linger as grim monuments to the ravages of man and his wanton fires.”

– The Greening of the South, P.6

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Well, I have chosen 18 images which I am willing to work with for this project. When my cohort returns from her latest globe-trotting, we’lll see if she agrees with me and we can proceed, or we’ll sit down and hash out the images together. We are already having a healthy debate on sizes, so it only makes to add another. She wants 6-8 80×80 prints. I on, the other hand, want 6 60×60’s with 9 20×20’s. We shall see, we shall see. In the meantime, here are 4 of the 18 I am contemplating. The scans aren’t great by any means, but they will have to do for the time being.

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Hereditics

my great-grandfather on the Canadian prairie in approx 1915

I just made up a word: hereditics. Meaning the politics of heritage. I don’t mean politics like laws and bills and the like, no, I mean politics as in “the total complex of relations between people living in society.”

That’s what this blog is partly about. You see, in 1959, my grandmother, Grace, became a news reporter in the Columbia Basin. In those days, reporters were their own photographers, and my grandmother toted around a Rolleiflex K4 and used a 4×5 camera lent to her by one of the papers she worked for taking pictures of the Columbia River Irrigation Project, traffic accidents, community officials and whatever else was to make the pages of the weekly and dailies she worked for. She also ran a portrait studio, and spend much of her life taking photographs of her children, the farm she worked with her husband, and anything else that happened across her path.

Before that, in 1911, her mother, my great-grandmother, Emma, bought a Kodak pocket folding camera that took postcard sized photographs. The camera used 122 film, and traveled from Salt Lake City (where my great-grandmother lived) to Alberta, Canada, to Seattle, WA and everywhere in-between. Emma drug that camera around with her the entire second half of her life, taking photographs of her husband, children, the Canadian prairie, and whatever else she could find.

And prior to that, Emma’s father, my great-great-great grandfather, Christian, a minister, was trained as a publisher in Norway, and ran a small paper in Ballard, WA. He rented presses and spent hours hunched over setting type and running the machines. Although he had trained Emma in the art of the press, she must have considered herself a lady and took the road of housewife, instead of publisher.

What does this all have to do with me? Well, I hold my BFA in photography, and currently work in print production. I have been shooting with my grandmother’s Rollieflex for 10 years and have also recently acquired my great-grandmothers Kodak folding camera (which is still in working order and has my first test roll housed in the back) and many of my great-grandmothers and my grandmothers negatives, slides and prints.

I am beginning a new path in my work. Sorting through these slides, these stories. Trying to make sense of my heritage and my passion for communicating through art. If you would like to join me in my journey, here is where it starts.

And I’ll wait for my new word to make it into Merriam-Webster.