In the fall of 2001, I relocated from New Mexico to the Mississippi Delta to live on my family's farm, Belle Chase. Following the events of September 11, my brother, Steele, and I felt compelled to return home. He moved his family into my grandmother's former house, and I moved into a large Victorian house built by my great-great grandparents. Both houses, which sit fifty yards apart and face one another on a vast lawn, were unoccupied for decades. They had begun to settle into the earth, and we felt we were doing something important by re-inhabiting them.
I ate from my great-grandmother's china, drank form her crystal and slept in her bed. At dusk I rocked on the porch and watched the blackbirds descend on the canebrake planted by my great-grandfather. Living on the farm I existed in a strange continuum. My family's history and their connection to this place were markedly present in my everyday experience.
I lived on Belle Chase for two years before leaving Mississippi (again) to take a teaching position at the University of South Carolina. Into the Flatland explores familial obligation and our conflicted relationship with "home." The photographs in this series were made during regular trips home to visit family over a period of several years. These are the people I love most in a place that I am deeply connected to. I chose to leave the Mississippi Delta for many of the same reasons anyone ever chooses to leave a rural area. This is land that my family has inhabited for generations, and I am pulled to this place in a way that I am not able to fully articulate. It is not my nostalgia alone that creates this longing; it is that of my mother and my mother's mother.
Bio and contact:
Kathleen Robbins is an associate professor of art, affiliate faculty of southern studies and coordinator of the photography program in the McMaster College of Art at the University of South Carolina. Robbins was raised in the Mississippi Delta and received her MFA from the University of New Mexico in 2001. Her photographs have been exhibited internationally in over 50 venues. Her work is part of numerous collections including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans and the South Carolina State Museum. She currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband, Ben, and their son, Asher.
Kathleen Robbins is a Columbia, SC, based photographer.
To view more of her work, please visit her website: kathleen-robbins.com
You can also contact her by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org