This is the final image in the Leaf Collection project - number 30. It should be Salt Cedar, but try as I might I cannot find it growing in Fannin County in 2017. I have two reactions to that. First, I am reassured that almost all of the plants I collected in 1968 can still be found here today. That gives me a sense of continuity. The 2nd reaction is relief that if one had to fall into oblivion, it is the water-loving, invasive Salt Cedar. I decided to substitute a plant that figured prominently not only in my youth, but in the history of this region. The days of cotton being King in Northeast Texas were already passing away in the 1950's and 60's, but almost everyone I know from those days had some experience of the cotton patch. And so much of the lifestyle of the home place and the family farm - so much of that echoing loss - was based on the cultivation of cotton. It has become a plant of almost mythical proportions for me, one that I plant in my flowers beds from time to time just to see an old friend.
This series has been a number of things to me. On the surface it has been a homage to my beginnings. It has been an organizing principle in my evolution as a photographer to encourage me to think in terms of bodies of work rather than individual images. It has been a headlong plunge into the depths of alternative photography - a plunge that I began a year ago and that I expect to swim in for the rest of my days. On a skills development level it has been a deep look into the variables and techniques of lumen printing. it has been a coming out of sorts in that I have begun to share my work more broadly through the vehicle of this project.
But it has been a much deeper journey also. It’s been a journey of understanding what it means to have voice, and of exploring the relationship between my work and my voice. It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. I feel that this project has been an important step for me in my journey as an artist. The journey is long and I have only begun, but it is a step.