Four years ago, I gave myself an assignment to photograph Seven Rivers across the United States. Since beginning the project in 2013, I have moved from San Francisco to rural South Georgia, started a farm and become a mother. The profound experiences afforded by my journey up and down each river have equally transformed my life. The rivers have embedded themselves into my being, shaping my role as mother, wife and artist. Water has woven its stories into my own- making it important to not only depict its narrative but to let it seep into daily conversations both in the studio and home.
The Colorado, Missouri/Mississippi, Columbia, Rio Grande, Tuolumne, Altamaha, and the Hudson are the seven rivers I chose to photograph, traveling them by raft, canoe, drift boat, foot and car. Each river mile is unique, though I am continuously aware that water, regardless of location, is the life sustaining veins of our earth. Through photography, I am bearing witness to the state of water now, as time is pertinent to understanding the effects of change.
The photographs depict an intimacy rather than documentation. The imagery highlights the beauty, degradation, triumph, solitude and the numerous unseen changes occurring on all rivers.
The series of maps are constructed with found maps I collected throughout my travels and hand paintings of each watershed using cyanotype and palladium photo chemicals. The brilliant blue lines of the rivers move like veins across the earth signifying life rather than the dull colors typically representative of water in cartography. The photographs are psychological references while the maps provide a geographic location to orient the viewer.
We stand at a precipice in the history of water. How we approach the health and use of our rivers now will determine the lifespan of fresh water. The series depicts images that are simultaneously beautiful and haunting in an attempt to challenge the viewer’s perspectives on the landscapes that sustain us.