I purchased "The Sanctuary" at Long Calm in February 2017 to serve as a studio and home for my artistic exploration. Based within the Forge Road African American Survey District, this is a place where the lives of the enslaved are honored, where the truth about history is told. In October 2018 I held a live podcast recording for Artifactual Journey with an intimate audience in attendance. My location affords easy access to the historical ruins at the river, which are part of Gunpowder Falls State Park.
Through the camera lens I embarked on a journey of awakening, from birds, to insects, to the tiniest details of the forest floor as I sought to answer the myserious call of fields, forests, oceans, and rivers. I slowly came to understand that I was called by plea eachoing from forgotten people and whitewashed history: to know the ground on which we walk.
My journey could be compared to a process of becoming bi-lingual: translating in real time the visual language of a world encoded in whitewash back into the language of truth that lies beneath. I live at the iron forges where people were enslaved, just across the river from people enslaved on a tobacco plantation. In the morning I drive to my office where the enslaved once labored on the Canton Plantation. As I spend more and more time communing with these artifacts, they give up more and more of their secrets, like the iron pieces I find around the crumbling puddling furnace on the Gunpowder. Every detail is a new nuance we have now learned to interpret.
In my work as an artist I have progressed from an exploration of nature to an understanding of anthropology as our part of natural history, in which knowing the ground on which we walk means knowing what remnants of our human past lie under the forest canopy, knowing what the fields, oceans and rivers remember. I have discovered the lives of enslaved people and that this is sacred ground.