Final Reclamation is a project about the resilience of nature. It is the idea that no matter what harm we inflict on the earth, nature is constantly overtaking and reclaiming the land to which it always belonged. It takes the form of a series of analog photographs documenting areas of rural southern Maryland, specifically farmland, that have been abandoned by humans and left to be reclaimed by nature. These photos are presented on a wall structure made with wood recovered from a few of the barns.
My decision to photograph farmland and vehicles came from a theory written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Discourse on Inequality about the origin of the human’s separation from nature; Rousseau speculated that the moment humans initially grouped together and began tending land and raising animals, we separated ourselves from the idea of nature. We were no longer a part of it, it was simply the backdrop for our existence. Over thousands of years that separation grew wider and wider. I wanted to envision farmland as one of the first things to be taken back by nature, as it was, theoretically, the first thing we took from it. Additionally, my childhood experience with continuously working, and failing, to restore an abandoned farm has shaped my understanding of nature’s incredible resilience.
My larger body of work focuses on individual human experiences regarding relationships with others, the self, and the earth. This particular project fits into this theme because, to me, humankind as a whole has lost its connection to nature, and I believe this connection will only be restored if we reposition ourselves to understand ourselves as a part of nature. I find that one of the best ways to connect to nature is to recognize its resilience and strength.