Ghost Trees is as an exploration of the liminal space between what was, what is and what will be in an ever-changing world. It began as an investigation of the dying bald cypress trees due to environmental degradation in the lower Cape Fear River basin in Wilmington, NC. Toward the end of the project, news broke that multiple Perflourinated Chemicals (PFCs), including, but not limited to, PFOA/C8, PFOS, and GenX, as well as 1,4-dioxane had been found in high levels in the area’s drinking water supply that is sourced from the Cape Fear River. Most of the chemicals are from industrial waste. The river also contains significant levels of agricultural waste from area Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) as well as coal ash from Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds.
As the Ghost Trees project progressed, it became an exploration of the ways in which my vision is both limited and expanded due to visual impairment. My previous work highlighted sharp focus and deep depth of field. I had tried for years to find an entry into the blur of my visual world through photography, but all attempts failed until Ghost Trees. Rather than clinging to what was, my work on Ghost Trees served as portal into embracing what is with my vision. Human nature is to turn away from what is difficult or painful, yet it is through entering the darkness that we are able to truly see the light. The images are equivalents of the feelings that are evoked as I see the trees from my heart. When we embrace what is, the way to healing becomes clear. It is my hope that viewers can see both the sorrow and the beauty of these dying trees from their heart and feel deeply moved to preserve nature in their local communities.