University Press of Mississippi, Hardcover, 9781578061778, 96pp.
Publication Date: October 19, 1999
Although many acclaimed photographers have focused their cameras on the Mississippi Delta, no photographer, until now, has attempted to produce a photographic interpretation of the land itself. The images in this book, all taken by Maude Schuyler Clay between 1993 and 1998, are the result of the first such undertaking.
-Delta Land, - she says, -is a photographic project which involves the recording and preservation of the Mississippi Delta landscape and its rapidly disappearing indigenous structures: mule barns, field churches, cotton gins, commissaries, crossroads stores, tenant houses, cypress sheds, and railroad stations.
-Moving back in 1987 to the Delta (Tallahatchie County), where I am the fifth generation to live here, allowed me to view the endemic and ordinary landscape as a disappearing way of life. With this work, begun in 1993, I feel I have completed an artistic and educational body of photographs that show the landscape and culture of this particular place; that I have preserved through photography the communities of both whites and African Americans of the Delta region.-
In an introductory essay that populates Clay's almost people-less settings, Lewis Nordan tells how these photographs evoke his Delta boyhood. Like her images, his memories are in black-and-white, -the color of grief and all its metaphors.- As he recalls the scrappy farms and flaking towns swallowed by the vast flatlands, he writes of his mother's maverick dog and its need of a country home. In Clay's terrains, Nordan sees the Delta land that is at once memorable, familiar, and astonishing.