I grew up in the rural Mississippi Delta; infamous for its checkered past and renowned for its fertile soil - the sandy loam deposited by the great river and its tributaries. My late grandfather, a third generation cotton farmer, spoke of this dirt as though it were a sacred mixture. In 2010 corn and beans were planted on my family’s farm in place of cotton for the first time in 120 years. I noticed this shift developing elsewhere in the delta landscape a few years prior. The horizon, which is historically visible to its very limits, was beginning to disappear behind a wall of stalks. The contemporary delta suffers from an existential malaise wavering between myth and reality, past and present. An exodus began in the 1940s with the mechanization of farming, and the population continues to decline. Schools are disappearing. Convenience stores are gone. Farm communities are dissolving. Beginning in 2011, I traveled familiar long, straight roads through the Delta photographing those who reside on rural farmland and continue to farm cotton.
Born in Washington DC and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Kathleen Robbins received her BA from Millsaps College and her MFA from the University of New Mexico. Her photographs have been exhibited in venues such as The Light Factory Museum of Contemporary Photography & Film, Rayko Gallery, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. She is represented by Jennifer Schwartz Gallery in Atlanta. In 2011, she was the recipient of the PhotoNOLA Review Prize. Publications include Flak Photo, Fraction Magazine, Conscientious, Humble Arts New York, NPR’s Picture Show, PDN’s Photo of the Day and One, One Thousand. Her work is part of numerous private and public collections. She currently resides in Columbia, SC, where she is an associate professor of art, coordinator of the photography program and affiliate faculty of southern studies at the University of South Carolina.
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