View from the Woodpile
A collaborative neighborhood ethnography in East Macon, Georgia, with artists Charvis Harrell and Jermaine Causey, titled "The View From the Woodpile". This is a reference to an old racist turn of phrase, "n-word in a woodpile", meaning "some fact of considerable importance that is not disclosed—something suspicious or wrong."
We did most of our work at and around Luckie's corner store, near the intersection of Fort Hill and Main Street in East Macon, Georgia. The corner store is the center of activity on Main street, which was once lined with thriving businesses, including a hardware store, grocery store, and two movie theaters, serving the mostly white workers of the nearby Bibb Cotton Mill. If you hang out at Luckie's for a few hours, you'll be present to a whole cross-section of this now black, blighted, and, until recently, ignored neighborhood. East Macon stands on the cusp of redevelopment, with old mill-worker houses being fixed up by local organizations and non-profits, in service of a soon-to-be-unveiled 'artist's village' that has both thoughtful skeptics and sincere supporters in Macon.
As a multiracial anti-racist art collective working in a deeply segregated town, our work was often at odds with the priorities of the Macon Arts Alliance (MAA), who funded and supported my presence in Macon. Questions about the MAA's motivations frequently come up in neighborhood conversations, especially given that they're a majority-white organization doing work in a black neighborhood, and they've previously fired artists whose politics don't align with their mission.They had hired me to document their redevelopment work in the neighborhood, which they had rebranded "Mill Hill". Charvis and Jermaine felt sidelined by the MAA, despite being artists with deep roots there. This was the seed of our collaboration.
Charvis and I started hanging out and taking polaroids of people at Luckie's. The exchange went like this: I approach a person or group and ask if they want their photo taken. They pose however they want, and two minutes later they have a polaroid print in their hands to take home. This particular polaroid film also produces a functional film negative, which I processed later at home using bleach and scanned into the computer, making these images.
The project culminated in two shows in Macon - one on the eastside with my photos displayed for the neighborhood, and a show downtown featuring my photos alongside Charvis and Jermaine's paintings.