The Art of the Personal Project: Kris Davidson

Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s Featured Artist: Kris Davidson

Walter as Nat King Cole (Love is the Thing)

Sasha and the Confederate Colonel

Swamp Thing, French Quarter street performer in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Antoinette, a slave genealogist, performing a commemoration for her ancestors in Kentwood, Louisiana.

Jesus Love You, God Love You, I Love you – house in New Orleans, Louisiana.

MEDIUM:  20”x 24” and 30”x 40”prints on archival matte paper. 
SUMMARY: In the Southern Garden is a photographic study of how history lives on in the American South; primarily a portrait series, the project depicts southerners from all walks of life wearing their history

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

In the Southern Garden is an exploration of how individual identity and everyday life continue to unfold in the American South, a place where the past is always present and constantly in a state of revision by the people who tell and re-tell their stories over time. Using a 4×5 view camera, the image-making process is slow, deliberate and collaborative. This project looks at how Southerners understand and wear their own history. 

The American South is lush, green and dominated still by vast expanses of the arable land that gave rise to a slave economy. The idea of a garden serves as a metaphor for the nature of memory, which is seeded and cultivated, and yet, grows wildly when left untended.  The portraits are typically made in garden settings, farming areas or in nature. Some of the portraits feature subjects directly referencing their embraced history (such as Confederate re-enactors or Harriet Tubman) while others are more subtle in every-day dress. It is in bringing all of these portraits together, that history conflates, strangely revealing parallels and intersections of the African-American and white narratives. Every subject is treated with respect. Every subject is an American.

The American South is a place that is tragic, strong, graceful, insolent, optimistic, beautiful, conservative yet wild — teeming with memories that are overgrown and intertwined like untended foliage along the banks of the Mississippi River.


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

There Are 1 Comment On This Article.

  1. Oh, I LOVE this project. And as a New Yorker that takes extended road trips all over the south on my trips to New Orleans, Kris Davidson perfectly sums up why the south is so riveting to me. I’m going to have to remember the words “…history lives on in the American South” when my city friends ask me, “Why do you always take these crazy trips through the south?” The photos here and the artist’s statement really resonate. Thank you for sharing!