The photographs that make up this series are representations of respective stories and histories surrounding the Underground Railroad. The tales that serve as the basis for this work are fragmented in nature, full of unknowns and suppositions.
In beginning to create these images, I was eager to uncover hidden details pertaining to various locations and individuals. I was entrenched in the idea that this type of evidence would allow me to tell better stories.
As I continued to research and travel to different locations, I began to realize that it was the absence of these details that became important to me.
I shifted focus to creating space for these unknowns, building upon imagined perspectives and leaving room for these environments to echo their own histories.
I could barely discern where the creek started and the hill ended. My tripod doubled as a walking stick as I treaded towards the water through crops of vine. Between the crickets and the breathing of the brush, I listened for the sound of a flowing stream.
How does it feel to be lost?
Curious insects adorned the body of my camera. Weeds playfully grabbed hold of my boots. I cocked the shutter and began to sink into the soil.
When I’m here I don’t remember what I’m looking for. What I find raises questions I didn’t set out to answer.
An image is found in looking back. May it be through time, space, or a journey on a sliver of soil.
“You’re not black you’re chocolate brown.” Those were among the first words I was greeted with after walking up the driveway of the former homestead of Peter Roe in New Windsor, New York. As the history goes, Roe is considered to be the first abolitionist in Orange County.
The property has been owned and inhabited by a local family for over a century. The house itself sits upon a multitude of acreage and is graced by grand trees overlooking the front yard. Far behind the house, retired railroad tracks lay within the woods.
How do environments preserve the history that surrounds them?
The barn has folded into itself, its roof wears a large wound that seems to have been inflicted by the rays of sun that now illuminate its interior. The heavy doors are boarded shut, rust and wearing screws make a conventional entrance impossible. The organic decay its experiencing has created wide and awkward crevices.
Where do these stories go? When the wood is done rotting and the nails are buried between blades of grass. When walls become debris, and windows a hazard, neglected panes eager to break.
How do you hold on to remnants of history? What role do these fragments play when you may never know the details of the larger story?
As the sun set, we slipped between fence posts and made our way towards the creek. How quickly we became alone, each of us enveloped in the dense foliage along the banks. We called out to one another, describing the paths we’d taken to where we stood now. The water ran confidently behind our backs, and the sky stood still, watching us.