Opening: Saturday, Dec 9th, 6pm – 8pm
This collection of photographs and artist statement are excerpted from my recently published book, Tide Lines: A Photographic Record of Louisiana’s Disappearing Coast, (2023. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi). I have spent nine years photographing the beauty, complexity, and destruction of South Louisiana from a powered paraglider. Once formed by sediment deposited by the Mississippi River, Louisiana is now rapidly eroding. Over the past eighty years, our coast has lost two thousand square miles of wetlands in its transition back to open water.
I first saw this surreal and beautiful landscape from above on a commercial airline flight and wondered if I could tell the story of coastal erosion in a new way through aerial photographs. I learned to fly a powered paraglider. After exploring accessible parts of the coast for several years, I built a wooden sailboat to access Louisiana’s remote barrier islands.
With my powered paraglider, I can fly between ten and five thousand feet above the ground. I spend hours in the air, camera in hand, waiting for the brief moments: when the first rays of sunlight mix with cool predawn light and illuminate forms in the grass or when evening light sculpts fragments of marsh and the geometric patterns of human enterprise—canals, oil platforms, pipelines, and roads. My photographs show the weather and seasonal changes like the shifting high-water line, color temperature, and softness of light. A careful observer will notice coastal flora and distinguish living cypress trees from those that have been killed by saltwater intrusion or see the patterns made by wave energy on barrier island beaches.
This intimate view of Louisiana from a birds-eye perspective prompts me—and I hope, others—to see and understand its landscape in new ways and to reexamine my relationship to the environment that surrounds me.