I never wanted to claim myself as a southern artist until I read Sally Mann’s memoir Hold Still, she is a photographer that uses a view camera to create images. Mann’s words gave me peace of mind to say that I am a southern artist, that I should be proud, and I can’t deny this fact about myself. Like Sally Mann, I photograph the land, the southern spirit, and life as I experience but also how I see others live it too . In a recent series of photos, Vulnerable, I documented the treatment for my illness, CVID, these photos depict myself shirtless with needles in my lower stomach. Photographing this experience was healing and emotionally challenging, the questions of life and death and the quality of both come up.
Sally Man also said in her memoir, “As for me, I see both beauty and the dark side of the things; the loveliness of cornfields and full sails, but the ruin as the well” I find this statement to be a reminder that we need to find the beauty in everything, there is beauty in my condition, a subject matter. Kiki Smith, German born, American artist known for her printmaking, sculptures, and tapestry once said, “I like that feeling when you’re making art, that you’re taking the energy out of your body and putting it into a physical object. I like things that are labor-intensive: you make a little thing and another little thing and another little thing, and eventually you see a possibility.” I find having time to just build is resting on the mind because it’s as if my body knows the process just like muscle memory. When you make something, you do it again, and again, it becomes a part of your nature.