The Vanishing America Project documents things in our country and our culture that may not be around for future generations to enjoy. And, when I heard about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, I knew that there was a subject that fit my parameters perfectly, for it was clear that the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico would never be the same.
But my goal wasn't to be just another journalist documenting bad news. I wanted to create Art out of a terrible situation -- hence the name of the series Beautiful Images from a Disturbing Place. The images in this book are from that series. Beautiful images of disturbing places stir up a different kind of emotion than straightforward images of those same places. They force the mind to do a double-take and bypass the shock factor. And when the Art does that, the mind is free to process logically and emotionally together, making for a much clearer and effective response, allowing the viewer to stay long enough to absorb the message. And that's the point, isn't it?
This series of portraits shows some of the people involved with the spill – the fishermen, the cleanup workers, the wives, the business owners, the scientists, the volunteers... the people who call the Gulf of Mexico their home. More effective than mere words, their expressions show best how they feel about what is happening to them. Their faces show the sadness, anger, desperation, exhaustion and hope of regular human beings trying to cope with an uncertain future.
They are the People of the Spill.