I often come up with a name for an image long before the image itself. The words Haunted Grace came to me one evening, and I knew I would one day create a piece of art to bear this title.
But I had no idea how the image would materialize.
“My life is so much more interesting inside my head” – Unknown
I have a creative dark side. I love creepy, spooky, mysterious subjects—things that ask ‘what if’ and linger somewhere inside me, not knowing how or when they will come to surface.
I fed this dark side on a trip to the bayous of Caddo Lake. The lake straddles east Texas and west Louisiana, dotted by cypress trees, covered in Spanish moss, and home to several shoreline towns like Ferry Lake and Uncertain.
This being my first trip to the lake, uncertain is exactly how I felt. Unease washed over me. My imagination ran wild, wondering how many bodies were under the water and how they got there.
The sun started to slip below the horizon, and the light fell gracefully through the cypress trees. A blue heron flapped its wings and took flight, gliding over the mossy water below. There was an eerieness in the air.
I captured the heron and left the lake. The image was captured, but the story was far from complete.
A few months later, I sat down to look through my files. Caddo Lake and the heron flickered into view, and again I was unsettled. There was something—or someone—missing.
Where was Grace?
Her absence haunted me and weighed me down. What happened to her?
I printed the image, grabbed my painting supplies, and put on music. Away I went, searching for Grace in the new textures and emotions the paint provided.
Grace began to appear, rising up from deep below the surface of the water. It was too late for her—somehow, I knew she had died gracefully. But still, questions remained: Why did she die? How did it happen? Who saw her death?
I asked more and more questions as I created, digging deeper into the story. Although no faces were painted intentionally into this work, several began to materialize and haunt the scene. If you look closely at this photographic painting, you may see the eyes and faces of the spirits of the past and spirits of animals. The most haunting face appears at the case of the cypress tree in the water.
I was looking for answers to my questions…but perhaps there are none. Use your own imagination: what do you see in Haunted Grace? How does it affect you? Take yourself back to a dusky bayou; how would you feel photographing, knowing the spirits were starting to materialize around you?