Brandon Thibodeaux, ‘Blak Powa, Alligator, Mississippi’, 2009, Pictura Gallery

Series: When Morning Comes

Statement: When Morning Comes is a reflection of life in the Mississippi
Delta. I first traveled to the region in the summer of 2009 because I
needed to breathe after my own troubled times. I was in search of
something stronger than myself and attended its churches not to
photograph but to cry and be redeemed and to just be a part of the place.
I was there to listen as I prayed for a revelation.
Over the past three years I have witnessed signs of strength against
struggle, humility amidst pride, and a promise for deliverance in the lives
that I’ve come to know here. This is a land stigmatized by poverty
beneath a long shadow of racism. I do not wish to overlook this fact but
rather look between it for evidence of the tender and yet unwavering
human spirit that resides within its fabric.
I photograph in five communities that span roughly 15 square miles of
the northern Mississippi Delta. Villages with names like Alligator, and Bo
Bo, as well as the country’s oldest completely African American city,
Mound Bayou, where in 1910, a New York Times headline once declared,
“no white man can own a square foot of land.”
In what began as a journey for personal exploration is found a narrative
of another man’s faith, identity, and perseverance. I see the strength of a
single man while acknowledging the machine that replaced thousands,
the flight of childhood innocence grounded by the scar of life hard lived,
a living room altar to a symbolic president and a toppled white king in a
conquered game of chess.
While this work makes specific reference to the rural black experience, I
am reminded with every visit that these themes of faith, identity, and
perseverance are common to us all. These are the traits of strong men.
And maybe that is the lesson I was looking for all along.

About Brandon Thibodeaux

The Texan photographer Brandon Thibodeaux has created a body of work that explores the American South in the documentary tradition. Using black-and-white film and a Mamiya C330, he captures poetic pared-down compositions that blend fine art with elements of reportage in the square frame of medium-format photography. “In a way I think they feel like we’re making something special together, using this unique-looking device,” he has said of working with the twin-lens camera. The resulting photographs present both a timeless and a completely of-the-moment portrait of a place and its inhabitants. Thibodeaux also uses 35 mm and digital cameras, and incorporates elements from his art practice in his career as an editorial and corporate photographer.

American, b. 1981, Beaumont, Texas, based in Dallas, Texas