When asked to contribute to the Where We Live photographic fellowship, I deeply considered the work I was asked to respond to—namely Alex Harris’ 1971-2 North Carolina body of work, made nearly forty-five years ago on this very soil.
The first thought that came to mind was: what has changed? What might I add to this visual conversation? What is newly evident in North Carolina—and the greater United States—as well as the practice of photography? What might provide a window onto our shifting terrain and home-place, not to mention demographic?
The first photograph I encountered in Harris’ portfolio depicted an African-American migrant worker, made in Carteret County in the June of 1972. Therein I quickly found my subject.
North Carolina maintains a largely agricultural economy today, but these fields are no longer toiled by African-American migrant workers. Hispanic workers have replaced the African-American workforce, though they, too, are migrants in transient living spaces. The faces may have changed, but the life of a nomad remains. This look at the dwelling places of migrant farmworkers is ultimately a consideration of how one creates a home while residing in a transient state of being.