The Hankersons is a portrait series that connects the relatively small number of people who share my last name to the shared history of slaveholders and slaves spanning 260 years. Currently, there are fewer than three thousand people with the name Hankerson, all of whom live in the United States, while fewer than ten percent of whom identify as white. Through this project-in-progress, I am following the direct line to the Hankerson ancestors, with the aim of visually joining a fractured family narrative that has been stolen, lost or misremembered.
I use the social web to connect with people who share my last name. I visit Hankersons in their homes and spend time with each to create a personal connection, before engaging in portrait making. I then turn a room into a temporary portrait studio by setting up lights and photographing with a medium format digital camera and tripod. The result is a deconstructed family of individual portraits that are reconstructed to mirror a defining national experience.
Photographer Lacey Criswell and I set out to photograph a largely ignored part of the notorious Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota--love, devotion and family within context it exists at the rally.
In psychology, visual association is the ability to relate a visual image to other visual images in a meaningful way. In this series, I investigate formal and thematic relationships of images that precede and follow each other.
20" x 30" prints on fabric
Dark Mondays explores the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in a state of quiet that the public will never see—the museum with its lights off. Areas that are not intended to be highlighted are illuminated and artworks that are meant to be regarded are masked in shadow. A psychic parallax occurs between the intended view of the museum and a the museum in the dark.
Heads of the Hills
4' x 6' prints on fabric
A bust of each of the forty-four U.S. presidents, weighing as much as twenty-four tons and standing as tall as twenty feet resides among the pine trees in the Black Hills in South Dakota. Presidents Park opened to the public in 2003, pridefully celebrating the United States’ legacy, but closed indefinitely in 2010, due to diminished tourism in a struggling economy. The presidents’ busts are set against a land that was, according to the 1981 US Supreme Court ruling in the United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, taken illegally from the Lakota/Sioux peoples. The disputed land in the Black Hills is sacred to Lakotas, Cheyennes, Arapahos, Kiowas and Kiowa-Apaches.
By photographing at night, the spectacle of the park is not only reinforced, but augmented. A psychic parallax occurs between the originally intended view of the of the park and a current view of the park at night--a closed park that is no longer accessible to the public. In the dark, the figures appear grotesque, in some cases unidentifiable. But for now, in this exhibit within an exhibit, the lonely decaying figures remain residents of the hills.
'twas only a balloon
All images and text are in the Public Domain.
You’ve seen Balloons set — Haven’t You? written by Emily Dickinson, 1863.
All images courtesy of
Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress.