This is a collaborative project, begun In August of 2016, with Photographer Christa Bowden , and Sound Artist/Sculptor Ernesto R. Gómez. Our first weeklong stay on the island, in August 2016, coincided with the centennial of the National Park System and was the first of many annual trips we intend to make to this southernmost barrier island off the coast of Georgia.
Having never been to Cumberland Island before, the initial visit was, for me, an orientation to the geography of the island, which is roughly the size of Manhattan. I learned about its various ecosystems: forests, salt marshes, and undeveloped beaches, as well as its historic sites such as Carnegie family mansions and ruins, traces of cotton plantations and slave cabins, and the African Methodist Church built by freed slaves who lived on a reservation on the north side of the island post-Civil War.
In reviewing the images that I’ve made so far, I’m finding that what draws me to the island is its unique and sublime natural beauty—its brilliant sunrises and sunsets, its salt marshes in various shades of green, its windswept beaches sometimes occupied by wild horses, its diverse forms of plant life and wildlife and simply stated, its color. (This is the first photographic series I have made with medium format color slide film).
However, the photographs cannot be seen as mere reflections on beauty. Cumberland Island is threatened by climate change. Temperatures and sea levels are rising; droughts, floods and storms are gaining in intensity. The images and recordings that we make may become a document of lost historic sites, and inundated landscapes. This knowledge adds urgency to our project and drives our desire to exhibit and publish the work as a lasting document.