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Shared Earth: The Ancient Mounds Project

“Ancient earthen mounds that were built as many as five thousand years ago are strewn all across the flat Louisiana landscape.  They are the remnants of cultures that thrived for over four thousand years before vanishing in the wake of the arrival of the first Europeans.  Since that time the mounds have been bulldozed, plowed under or swallowed whole by our advancing society.  The ones that are left have become nearly invisible in their rural camouflage and our lack of interest.  The goals of this project are to seek out these sacred earthworks, to flush them from their secret hiding places and to reveal the stubborn strand of Time as it stretches across this delta land.  With these photographs I hope to place a vivid finger on the rare confluences where past and present flow together across our shared earth.”

That was the introduction I wrote for this project when it was submitted to the 2012 Photolucida Critical Mass competition.  There were 756 entrants and this project made it into the Finalist group of 200.  But what the introduction doesn’t say is how amazing it is to stand next to such ancient structures and what an honor it is to photograph them.  No matter their size or condition, they are all such extraordinary monuments.

The images in this portfolio are arranged in chronological order.  The oldest earthworks are at the beginning and the timeline advances as you scroll through the photographs.  It is remarkable to stand before them as they hang in an exhibit and feel the history of this land flow over thousands of years from the moundbuillders to me ... and beyond.

Prints from this series were printed on Canson Edition Etching with carbon pigment ink on an inkjet printer.  Each print was then attached, with handmade photo corners, onto Magnani Pescia paper.  Handwritten notes containing information about each image are included in the borders of the Magnani paper which is then float mounted on cotton rag matboard.

Thanks to all who contributed financially to this project through my fiscal sponsorship with Fractured Atlas.  Thanks also to Dr. Joe Saunders, Dr. Diana Greenlee, the Archaeological Conservancy and all the private landowners for their continued help with the work.  And I should add a disclaimer that any factual errors are strictly my own. 

This work was exhibited October 2014 - February 2015 at the Masur Museum of Art in Monroe, Louisiana.  It is now available to travel to other venues.  A PDF of the exhibit is available upon request.  Click here for a collection of some of the images from this project.  The project is complete but you can follow the archive of its progress via the "Blog" button on the left.

And you can read about the series of handmade artist books from this series here.

Installation view from the Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, Louisiana.