Coming Home to Cotton
Extending from the installation of Sayre’s work, “Coming Home to Cotton” is a remarkable exploration of one family, broadly defined by blood kin and chosen family, as it has struggled to keep alive a century-old cotton farm in the Four Hole Swamp Region of South Carolina. “In her last breath before my mother died,” explains documentary photographer Houck Medford, “She said to me, ‘Take me home!’ Home for her was her birthplace farm in low-country South Carolina. It has been nearly 50 years since I had spent time there. There have been many changes, and in some respects—none. Cotton is now a huge agribusiness. Story-high machinery and equipment have replaced scores of farm laborers. Farming remains a lifestyle. The farm family goes to church on Sunday; they have children and think about farm succession and ‘keeping it in the family.’ They want everyone to get along. African-Americans still provide the farm with a workforce.” Medford’s intimate photographs push these close-knit connections between cotton, family, and history to the forefront of the conversation.