3/15/2009 - Terra Incognito, Vestiges Of Grandeur: Photographs by Richard Sexton - The Birmingham News
Terra Incognito, Vestiges Of Grandeur. Photographs by Richard Sexton
A highly successful photographer for commercial enterprises, Richard
Sexton creates these two sets of photographic prints as a labor of love
for a part of America that is inexorably changing. One group
concentrates on the natural land and seascapes of the Gulf Coast. The
other deals with abandoned structures along Louisiana's River Road. He
has an unerring eye for natural transformations and fading worlds.
Sexton obviously cannot order nature to behave in certain ways, he has
the patience to wait for those moments when earth, sea and sky converge
into startling and beautiful compositions. He captures the majestic
roll of the quiet sea as its gentle surf laps at the sand under dark
and heavy clouds.
He wanders about the landscape of heavy
old oak trees with low-hanging limbs extended, dripping with Spanish
moss that drapes like ancient lace on the arms of a southern belle. An
old oak shows part of its root structure in a tumbling mass of
searching, knotted tendrils.
One of the most dramatic studies is an almost symmetrical column that
begins with sand and builds to a mound crowned with seagrass. From a
low perspective, a large white puff of a cloud rises against an
otherwise clear sky. It is elegant and breathtaking.
Anyone who has driven along the low marshes of the Southern coast can
identify with the image of a few dying and dead spindly trees rising
from marsh grass. With "Vestiges of Grandeur," Sexton concentrates on
the interiors of abandoned and decaying antebellum plantation houses.
He captures the eerie elegance of graceful, circular staircases and
faded rooms, where the remains of fireplaces and barren windows allow a
soft light to etch memories on the torn and faded wallpapers. There is
a unique beauty to the water-blotched walls that approximate the look
of ancient frescoes. Now only our eyes, and perhaps a few ghosts, drift
through the dilapidated rooms, sagging doors and empty windows.
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