Academic journal article Southern Cultures

Drawn to Water

Academic journal article Southern Cultures

Drawn to Water

Article excerpt

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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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Lifeguard games, Kure Beach, North Carolina, 201)

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Aiden, Deep River, Yadkinville, North Carolina, 2015

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Taking a selfie at Looking Glass Falls, Brevard, North Carolina, 2015

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Peeking out, Lost Cove Creek, North Carolina, 2014

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River rocks, Lost Cove Creek, North Carolina, 2013

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Above: Couple in the Eno Quarry, Eno River, Durham, North Carolina, 2014 Below: Johnnie Mercer's Pier, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, 2013

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Above: Lost Cove Creek, North Carolina, 2013 Below: Brothers under Johnnie Mercer Pier, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, 2013

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In the surf, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, 2013

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Rock circle, Eno River, Durham, North Carolina, 2014

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Above: Tubes, Lost Cove Creek, North Carolina, 2013 Below: Dripping tube, Lost Cove Creek, North Carolina, 2013

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Tubes, Wilson Creek Gorge, North Carolina, 2014

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Beach wedding, Tyhee Island, Georgia, 2015

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Baptism, Upward Holiness Church Bible Camp, Hungry River, Henderson, North Carolina, 2015

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Above: Walking the dog at dawn, Carolina Beach Pier, North Carolina, 2013 Below: Metal detection, Tyhee Island, Georgia, 2014

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Above: Cliff leaper, Eno Quarry, Durham, North Carolina, 2015 Below: Leaping child, Looking Glass Falls, Brevard, North Carolina, 2015

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