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Chapter 2 – The Harvest
This chapter of the ‘The Sugar Mill Sessions’ focuses on the harvesting season of sugar production in Southwest Louisiana. It attempts to give a localized, contemporary view of the industry by documenting 3 local mills: Cajun Co-op, Louisiana Sugar Cane Co-op and Enterprise, as well as by shadowing the Judices, a family of farmers whose roots are buried 7 generations deep in this industry.
With the sugar industry as a passive backdrop to my upbringing, it was natural for me use its distinctive characteristics as indicators of ‘home’ even after relocating as an adult. Originally, this work began in 2004 with the intention of capturing these traits in a purely formal documentary fashion, following the discipline of ‘photograph what you know.’ I worked mostly at night during the harvesting season months of September through January, which gave way to a more expressive capture of the industry. This direction allowed me to give a unique perspective to an industry where sense of place is often viewed as burdensome or vexatious. Unique lighting conditions along with modernistic compositions allow the images more gentle, hushed qualities while remaining grounded in the innate industrial masculinity — something easily overlooked by those familiar with the landscape.
“The Sugar Mill Sessions’ is an ongoing body of work that has evolved going forward. Historically great artists have explored this complex industry that is ingrained in the Southern culture as it has a continual ability to serve as an umbrella for flavorful artistic expression, critique and research.