The gallery @ wiljax » featuring photography inspired by the Mississippi Delta

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Kathleen Robbins: Into the Flatland

Opening reception: Wednesday, September 18, 2012 from 6-8PM

In the fall of 2001, after completing my MFA at the University of New Mexico, I relocated to the Mississippi Delta to live on my family’s farm, Belle Chase. Following the events of September 11, my brother, Steele, and I felt compelled to return home. He moved his family into my grandmother’s former house, and I moved into a large Victorian house built by my great-great grandparents. Both houses, which sit fifty yards apart and face one another on a vast lawn, were unoccupied for decades. They had begun to settle into the earth, and we felt we were doing something important by re-inhabiting them.

I ate from my great-grandmother’s china, drank form her crystal and slept in her bed. At dusk I rocked on the porch and watched the blackbirds descend on the canebrake planted by my great-grandfather. Living on the farm I existed in a strange continuum. My family’s history and their connection to this place were markedly present in my everyday experience.

I lived on Belle Chase for two years before leaving Mississippi (again) to take a teaching position at the University of South Carolina. Into the Flatland explores familial obligation and our conflicted relationship with “home.” The photographs in this series were made during regular trips home to visit family over a period of several years. These are the people I love most in a place that I am deeply connected to. I chose to leave the Mississippi Delta for many of the same reasons anyone ever chooses to leave a rural area. This is land that my family has inhabited for generations, and I am pulled to this place in a way that I am not able to fully articulate. It is not my nostalgia alone that creates this longing; it is that of my mother and my mother’s mother.