Eventually, nature will always come back to claim what belongs to it; so basically, everything. The American South is a prime example of this.
When I found the remains of an adolescent deer resting in a cotton field, I couldn’t think of a better place to die, among all this figurative snow, in a place that would quickly take me back to my original state and fertilizing the ground to grow something new, like the soft cotton that swayed around me. This ended up defining this project.
Growing up around rural Alabama, I was used to the nature’s slow digestion of abandoned buildings, whether it be from a tree taking root and growing out of the collapsed ceiling of a building, or the kudzu’s unimaginably fast trek across landscapes, swallowing trees, telephone poles, even bridges, fueled by the moist heat of summer. Rural areas are easy opportunities for Nature to take back what’s hers, highways are littered with abandoned buildings, or places that people don’t care about or forgot about. But she hasn’t.
I heard from a professor here at SCAD that the South was like a womb, and he couldn’t be more correct. We are cocooned in a lush, green paradise, with the earth healing the destruction humans cause. I have become fascinated by the wildness of the south, the ephemeral-ness of nature, and the earth that is constantly giving birth to herself.
I printed on matte paper in the darkroom to create an airy, unreal feeling in the landscapes, to match the resonance in my head.
Hunting Island, SC
Jekyll Island, GA
Pinckney Island, SC
Ancil Jaques- The Mushroom Forager
The most vivid memory that I associate with Ancil Jaques is the smell that follows him. It is the smell of life and decay, but in the passive, kind way the Earth takes back what’s hers. Musky, sweet, and wet. This is the smell of a man passionate about one thing; mushrooms. The smell of earth and life followed him through the farmer’s market at Forsyth Park, to his farm at his home in Reidsville, Georgia, to the woods where we foraged together for mushrooms.
He walked through the woods with nothing on his feet but flip flops for protection but moved with the agility of a deer. Even though I was an experienced hiker, I struggled to keep up with him, as well as factor in the prospect of snakes under my feet.
He talked fast, in a breathless way, about the mushrooms he foraged. He called everything by their genus and species. With each fungus he gathered, Ancil talked about all the different properties they had that made them unique. He held bright yellow mushrooms up to his face, showing the deep blue bruises on the fungus caused by his fingerprints, and let my camera capture the moment.
Because we were discussing so many important things that can’t be expressed visually, I included captions in my photographs. I printed full frame 35mm film, and used a film that is notorious for its green color cast, to try to bring the photographs, even the ones of the sterile mushroom farm, closer to nature.
Ancil with a customer: Forsyth Farmer’s Market, Savannah GA
Selling Chanterelles: Forsyth Farmer’s Market, Savannah GA
Hericirum erimaceus, or Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Forsyth Farmer’s Market, Savannah GA
Lion’s Mane is currently in clinical trials to combat cancer, diabetes, and cognitive diseases like Alzhiemer’s Disease.
Ancil’s “Grow You Own Mushroom” Kits: Forsyth Farmer’s Market, Savannah GA
Pleurotus ostreatus, or Oyster Mushrooms: Forsyth Farmer’s Market, Savannah GA
Ancil foraging for wild mushrooms: Pooler, GA
Remnants of Laetiporus sulphureus, or Chicken of the Woods: Pooler, GA
Trametes versicolor, or Turkey Tail Mushrooms: Pooler GA
Turkey Tail Mushrooms are being used to boost the immune system of cancer patients, particularly survivors of breast cancer
Ancil and his farm in his backyard: Reidsville, GA
Opening the door to the farm: Reidsville, GA
One part apple cider vinegar and one part dish soap help attract and kill flies: Reidsville, GA
Preparing to harvest: Reidsville, GA
Farmed Lions Mane: Reidsville, GA
Baby oyster mushrooms growing on the farm: Reidsville, GA
Ancil holds harvested Oyster Mushrooms: Reidsville, GA
Looking outside the farm: Reidsville, GA
Florence, Alabama- The Home Series
In May 2018, I permanently moved from my hometown of Florence, Alabama, to Savannah, Georgia. During my last spring break, I returned home to start packing, and I took time to walk around historic downtown Florence, armed with my Diana F+. I double exposed native flowering plants with the old homes in downtown, as a love letter to my hometown. Florence is where I was raised, where I went to school, and where I found my passion for photography. Its a tiny city on a river, and it’s home.