My Great Grandmother (we think), on the right.
I grew up in a family with a legacy of strong women. The men were strong too, there is no doubt in that, but I was always drawn to the stories of the women; mountain women, woodland women, green thumbs, farmers, gardeners, janes-of-all-trades.
As an adult, I find myself growing back into the roots of my family and the farmstead mentality that grew me. My photographic interests have turned toward who I am and what I understand - a desire to explore the relationships of women and land. Living in Athens, Ohio, I am surrounded by awe-inspiring women; this region (southeast ohio, west virginia, eastern kentucky) is full of so many amazing ladies.
It's been frustrating to realize that the amount of historical material celebrating women's accomplishments with land (farming, herbal health, environmental activism, etc) in northern Appalachia is severely deficient. Shocking, considering how many amazing, inspiring women I constantly meet here. And so was born the inspiration for my current project.
For my honors thesis to finish my OU degree in Visual Ethnography, I'm currently working on a new project devoted to celebrating the stories of a handful of inspiring women in the region and their unique relationships with land. The project will weave together a combination of oral history, my own photography and (this is the coolest part) the photography of the women in the stories. I think it's going to be really awesome and I can't wait to share as it develops. It's in the beginnings now, so stay tuned for many more updates over the course of the next 4 months.
Here are some photos of one of the women, Cindy Parker, while walking around her land and walking through her labyrinth on a few sunny february days. She is an herbalist, spiritualist, teacher and all around awesome human being.