Since October 2021, I’ve walked and run and biked thousands of miles along the Arkansas River Trail in and around Little Rock.
All along the way I have been photographing scenes along the Arkansas River.
Early settlers once described the Arkansas River as a sabbath for the forest.
I like that description.
Walking and photographing the Arkansas River from 2021-2023 was, for me, something of a sabbath.
From my struggles with a serious medical diagnosis I wasn’t quite ready to hear about or deal with.
From my legal career, which seems hell-bent on murdering color and creativity in my life.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I didn’t find a cure for these problems.
I still had to confront he culture of Arkansas out in the woods, and all along the Arkansas River.
Arkansans treat nature no different than they treat each other. The litter here is unbelievable – like no place I’ve ever lived – as it is the Arkansan’s penchant to blame “Californians” for ruining his state while he thoughtlessly leaves spent bags of Chik-Fil-A in the woods.
But what I did find was a greater sense of purpose in my photography.
As I shared more and more pictures of the Arkansas River on social media, and as people soaked it up and ooh’d and aah’d at the beauty of the Natural State, I realized that I was enabling the very culture I sought to escape.
I was doing little more than hiding from the ugly parts of this state while fixating on the pretty parts.
And I realized something more. I was merely fueling the “white gaze.”
The “white gaze” is a phenomena whereby white photographers consciously or sub-consciously shape their images to meet the expectations (and therefore the inherent prejudices and stereotypes) of almost exclusively white editors, curators, and audiences.
I was feeding the “white gaze” by reinforcing the message that yes, despite its people’s 400+ years of depraved inhumanity and mistreatment of fellow human beings, Arkansas was indeed still beautiful.
For whatever time I have remaining in this state, I was going to need to look at more than just the pretty parts. I am going to need to stop fueling the white gaze.
And so I left the river.
Below is a living archive of the photographs that I have made along the Arkansas River. I do try to add new photos monthly.
Click on the first photo to see the complete photos in gallery format.