Academic journal article Southern Cultures

Drawn to Water

Academic journal article Southern Cultures

Drawn to Water

Article excerpt

We are drawn to water for many reasons: for our health and survival, for rites and rituals, for athletic endeavors, and often for the pure pleasure of social engagement. Water cleanses and invigorates. It is both life-giving and an unstoppable force. In the heat of a southern summer it cools us and invites recreation and play, bringing us together across every race and social strata. It can be a place of isolation and lone meditation--or a location where one lets down one's guard (along with much clothing) to commune with strangers. Water motivates us to dare and cushions our fall.

Having spent thirty years away from my native state, I returned to North Carolina in 2012 with an idea to rediscover this beloved place with fresh eyes. I found myself drawn to the old landmarks of my memory and discovered that water was the common thread among them. Flowing down out of the Blue Ridge Mountains and finding its way to the Atlantic Ocean, it meanders its way across my southern landscape. My youthful fantasies were of Huck Finn floating down the Mississippi, and my realities were tubing down mountain streams in water so cold it turned your lips blue. I did build a raft once ... It sunk.

Undeniably, water is at the center of myriad political and environmental debates; my interest in these images, however, is to examine the social significance of water in our lives. These photographs capture the variety of human interactions found around beaches, lakes, and quarries, and along rivers, waterfalls, and swimming holes. …

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