Life in the Ozarks: An Arkansas Portrait
My ongoing project began in 2003 with a drive down a rural country road. I had recently moved to Fayetteville and was anxious to explore my new surroundings. The resulting images tell the stories of people, events and everyday life in and around small towns in the rugged Ozark Mountains. They represent different aspects of these communities – young and old, recent immigrants, preachers, cowboys, farmers and those whose families have lived in the Ozarks for generations.
I am interested in documenting the vestiges of an older Ozarks. There is a sense of timelessness that I want to convey in my work. I am drawn to the less travelled back roads where catfish are caught bare-handed, folks gather on porches to play bluegrass and subsistence farming is still in existence.
Living and photographing in the same place gave me the opportunity to observe the changes of a region in transition. Northwest Arkansas experienced tremendous growth in the last decade with rural communities inching closer and closer to cities. I really imagined this unique Arkansas heritage would be lost. What I have since discovered is the resilience and self- sufficiency of a complex culture that stands with one foot in the present and the other in the past. An individual might have a day job at a Walmart but returns to a hand built home and the traditions of the ‘holler’ at night.
Through these photographs and words it is my intention to preserve and share the richness of this Southern way of life with a broader audience.
Appleby Horse Fair: The Annual Gathering of Roma & Travellers in Appleby, England
While living in London from 1989 to 1991, I was thrilled to find out about the Appleby Horse Fair. The Roma and Traveller communities in England fascinated me. I knew little about their culture other than they were a unique and historically nomadic people. I hoped that by photographing what was believed to be the largest traditional Roma/Traveller event in Europe, I would learn more about their distinct way of life and be able to share it with others.
When I attended the Fair in 1991, around 5,000 Roma and Travellers from all over Britain reunited in motorized caravans and ornate vardos (horse-drawn wagons) to sell crafts and, most importantly, their horses. The real business of the Fair centers around the horses or grai which include: Fell ponies, Dales-cobs, cross-breeds, Welsh and New Forest ponies. A powerful stallion could sell for as much as €50,000 pounds. When the dealing began it was very subtle, but as it progressed the men got louder and a lot of teasing took place. The sale was finally completed when the buyer and seller agreed and slapped hands.
One of the most interesting events of the Fair was the daily bathing of the horses. Traditionally, young male Roma and Travellers show off their horsemanship by riding their mounts into the depths of the River Eden to fight the swift currents. Just as the men demonstrated their skills by taking care of the horses, women displayed their talents as adept fortune tellers. For a small fee, a client could find out from Romany Star the good news about their future. In recent years, over 10,000 Roma, Travellers, and over 40,000 visitors have attended the Fair.
The Fair begins in the first week of June and ends with the final sales day, which is always the second Wednesday of the month. The year 2020 was only the second time that the Fair had not taken place in its 250 year history.
E. 4th St & Prospect Ave Cleveland, Ohio
When I started photographing this area twenty-five years ago it was occupied mainly by African American shopkeepers and workers. Most had practiced their skills there for many years. Now these streets known as a part of the Gateway District are home to restaurants, entertainment venues, upscale apartments and condominiums. The streets are smoother and there are more parking lots, but an important slice of inner-city life in Cleveland has been lost.
Shortly after moving to London in 1990, I began photographing at Smithfield Market. I was fascinated by the strong thread of family tradition among the employees and by their work methods which had scarcely changed in 130 years.
I had no idea that the 800 year old home to the meat trade was about to undergo a massive face lift. New hygiene standards put forth by the European Union forced the remodeling that included temperature controlled shops and sealed loading bays. These renovations I soon discovered would affect not just the building but the work itself.
In the not so distant past, tonnage was up, and meat came through the market all night long, and with it a lot more laughter. Down-to-earth porters with nicknames like Silly Billy, Caruso and Sexy George were more likely to exchange salty banter while waiting for the whistle that signaled the beginning of their day.
Times being what they were at Smithfield, the name of the game became “task and finish” or get your work done and go home. To change, to modernize, meant to risk everything for the men who, like their fathers and grandfathers before them, had Smithfield in their blood; it truly was a way of life. I wanted to document that world before it was too late.