In the Spring of 2016, I had the opportunity to stay at the Hinson White
House, a one hundred plus year old Gullah dwelling, on the marsh side
of a South Carolina barrier island - Daufuskie Island. There was a
stillness to the place which allowed me to experience something I would
have otherwise overlooked. Surrounded by mammoth live oaks draped
with Spanish moss, towering magnolias, and expansive marsh vistas, I
found myself photographing the landscape.
I visited the cemeteries, the final home to plantation owners and slaves;
the still active First Union African Baptist Church; Gullah homes - both
restored and those which had fallen victim to time and isolation; and
other historic sites - the island is rife with them. I became aware of a
lingering presence, one which was manifest in the very nature of the
landscape. Despite the development of part of the island, there
remained a sense of a world apart (access is by boat only). And so I
spent my days on the beach, along the marsh and in the woods,
photographing what I came to know as the Spirit of Daufuskie.
Several visual elements convey this phenomenon: Trees are prevalent.
As evidenced in their physical anatomy - life rings - they are witnesses
to the events and passage of time on the island. The quality of light,
marching through the day, communicates an ongoing ritual celebrating
the time and place of Daufuskie. Water surrounds the island, protecting
it like a moat, from the time and tension of the mainland. These things
comprise the visual and tangible substances which denote the intangible,
but never the less palpable, life of the island.
A captivating place, I remember my time there, and look forward to my
return, to spend my days at Daufuskie.