I grew up in a house halfway down a dead end gravel road, across from a pasture speckled with cows and hay bales. My youth was spent there, often outside, if not working in the yard, then playing in it. Hacking through the brush and brambles of our overgrown backyard—once a small orchard, with a smattering of fruit trees, grape vines, and berries—became an afternoon of adventure. After finishing high school I moved farther into the mountains of North Carolina to attend Appalachian State University, in the small college town of Boone, an area filled with small farms and back roads.
Leaving my Western North Carolina home for New York City, I became part of the population shift out of rural areas into larger cities. I learned to cling to what I could find of the distant natural world, like the fog resting on the Hudson in the early morning light. Sometimes that light was all that remained to connect me back to the natural world. Those glimpses of sun and sky through the city street canyons became my entry point to my old home life back in the country. For more than a century now, Americans have been moving from rural areas into cities and suburbs. With this transition comes more and more distance from the rural experience, pushing it into the realm of a fantasy about a simpler—or simplistic—life in the country. With no direct history in the countryside, we collectively experience an increasing sense of rural otherness. The urban dweller in the distant city cannot comprehend the hardness and quiet complexity of a rural life.
In my series of photographs Searching for Home, I explore the everyday rural landscape as an outlet for nostalgia and longing for the disappearing rural lifestyle. My own experience is reflected in the work as I search for a way back to my childhood in the countryside, but my search is more of a discovery than a simple retelling of my memories. Where I came from and who I am mingles with where I want to have come from and who I want to be.