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.
Since 2007, I have been working with photographer Lacey Criswell to document a slice of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. Though photography, we engage aging members of a de-facto family who have bridged a landscape of lawless living to one of spiritual renewal. With this transformation comes a heightened awareness that this annual pilgrimage to Sturgis to reunite with their “brothers” might be their last.
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. Even without light, the artworks reveal a presence in an unexpected way.
In psychology, Visual Association is the ability to relate a visual image to other visual images in a meaningful way.