About the Book
Essay by MARK GOODMAN and Photographs by SYBIL MILLER
The Bastrop County Complex Wildfire started September 4, 2011, a Sunday afternoon on Labor Day weekend. It burned along a twenty-four mile front consuming thirty-five thousand acres—half of the Lost Pines—including my three acres, house of twenty-four years, and the places I photographed. It was the most destructive wildfire in Texas history. Five thousand people evacuated, two people died, nearly seventeen hundred homes and businesses were destroyed, and a million and a half trees vanished.
FROM THE INTRODUCTION: What remained was emptiness and irrevocable change. I couldn’t grasp my future or touch anything from my past. Other fire victims partially consoled themselves by saying they still had their family, that the rest was just stuff. But I didn’t have a family, and stuff was my anchor. The insurance company adjustor explained to me the value of such things: Something artlessly made from mahogany had greater value than something lovingly made from white pine—base materials counted, they are what they are, possessing properties that are known and established values. Whereas art and love are in the eye of the beholder—my taste, your taste, both are up for debate, nothing more than agreeing to disagree—a stalemate. In the end, you loved what you had and now you don’t have it. Your compensation consists of memories.
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Mark Goodman graduated from Boston University, in 1970, with a degree in Anthropology, and then studied photography with Minor White. A year later, he attended Apeiron Workshops in Photography and began a twenty-year documentary project taking pictures of a generation of children growing up in the nearby village of Millerton, New York. He received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1973) and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1977); his photographs were featured in Aperture 19:4 (1975); exhibited in a one-person show at the George Eastman House, in Rochester, New York (1980-1981) ; and A Kind of History: Millerton, New York 1971-1991 was selected by Vince Aletti in the Village Voice as one of the Top Ten Best Photography Books of 2000. Since 2005, he has published limited edition books and portfolios of photographs and personal essays.