Terrible Love

"The past is never dead. It's not even past." ~William Faulkner

"Laissez les bons temps rouler!" (Let the good times roll!) ~Cajun saying


"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." ~Martin Luther King Jr.

I love South Louisiana and my people. It is a terrible love. My photographs reference the Deep South—my roots. “Terrible Love” reflects my sense of pride and frustration about my roots, as well as my conflicted feelings about embracing a culture that is as violent and misguided as it is fun-loving and family-oriented.

My photographs explore the world of my siblings and childhood friends in South Louisiana—a place of deep-seated cultural traditions, constant celebrations, dreamlike vistas, lost opportunities––a place that hasn't seemed to change much in the past 40 years. Intergenerational poverty, addiction, gun violence, racism, low literacy rates, and corrupt politicians have taken their toll on my home state. Yet it is easy to “smile while sitting in the devil’s lap” if you are blessed/cursed to live in my part of the South.

I have a strong need to remember my Louisiana past and the Southern heritage I nearly lost after living three decades on the East Coast. Through my project, I reconnect with the people I love most, revisit my past, reclaim the part of myself I left behind years ago when I moved to Manhattan.

I use my photography to rediscover, relive, and reshape my memories. My project allows me to recreate and share my own truth about my Southern roots. It is indeed a blessing and a curse.

My project attempts to document two characteristics of my South Louisiana homeland:  the ever-present yet often unacknowledged obsession with the Civil War and "plantation past" as well as the rich culture that celebrates music, food, individualism, family, and tradition.

I hope to do this in a way that both illuminates the darkness and acknowledges the light that is always a part of everyday life.