Rockport takes place in the weeks and months after Hurricane Harvey swept through the community of Rockport, Texas and the surrounding area. On its surface, this group of photographs takes the form of a conventional photo essay, but its vantages are more oblique and open-ended, generating an interpreted retelling that is as searching and ambiguous as it is documentary.
While photographing, I found myself squinting, either to shield my eyes from the glaring sunshine or to take a closer view of something before me. Reviewing the work, I observed that many of my photographs demanded a similar kind of squinting to see the bare description of the destruction; a clash between the formal elements in the more abstract still lifes; the bright glimmer of light off the water.
There is no narrative in these photographs, no singular story, but rather the images appear, as Ron Jude writes of his own work, as the “stuttering utterances of the visual world,” and in sequence, they mirror my experience of sorting through the visual evidence. In its totality, Rockport is a disorienting, fragmented account of a time between times; that is, a witnessing of the aftermath of the last storm and the anxious anticipation of the next one.
As I edited this work, the title of Robert Adams’ What We Bought, an account of the suburbanization of metropolitan Denver in the 1970s, frequently came to mind. In the book’s essay, Adams writes, “The pictures record what we purchased, what we paid, and what we could not buy.” It is hard not to consider the words what we bought in a new light as we observe how human industrial activity has not only altered the visual order of nature, but also, in the form of climate change, how it appears to be altering the atmosphere’s stability.
Rockport materializes into a meditation on seeing and perceiving disaster. These photographs ask us to reflect on the natural impulse to shield one's eyes or divert one’s attention from what is overwhelming and the strain that is required to see hard realities more clearly, in a time when hurricanes and other natural disasters appear more frequent and severe. Finally, amid these reflections, this work offers a quiet testament to the unique and still alluring shimmer of the Gulf Coast.
Rockport was named a finalist for the 2018 New Orleans Photo Alliance Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography (Juror: Gregory Harris, High Museum of Art, Atlanta) and will be on view at Central Texas College in Killeen, TX (September 18th - November 11th, 2018), Precision Camera and Video in Austin, TX (August 2018), and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Student Union Gallery in Charlotte, NC (January 4th - 25th, 2019).
"Still Alluring," Oxford American Eyes on the South blog, July 2018
Inkjet prints in dimensions of 7 x 10.5 in, 13 x 19 in, 17 x 25 in, 24 x 36 in, and 30 x 45 in.
Installation view: San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, Gallery Verde, San Angelo, TX, July 2018