Artist's Statement

Benn Depp

For four years, I have been flying above the bayous and wetlands of southern Louisiana in a powered paraglider photographing visual clues of this landscape's destruction. My goal is to make photographs that serve as a memorial to this vanishing otherworldly environment.

The landscape of southern Louisiana is rapidly changing. In less than a 100 years South Louisiana has lost 2,000 square miles of wetlands and is less habitable each year.

The levees channeling the Mississippi River are starving the delta of the fresh-water and sediments necessary for its survival. Industrial canals and pipelines have allowed saltwater to rapidly intrude into freshwater and brackish wetlands, turning marsh into open water. Ghost forests remind us of a living landscape, a time before the salt killed the roots and turned our oak and cypress into skeletons.

With a powered paraglider, I can fly between ten and two thousand feet above these canals, marshes, and ghost forests. I spend hours in the air, camera in hand, waiting for the brief moments when the first warm rays of sunlight mix with cool predawn light and illuminate forms in the marsh grass or when the light sculpts a dead tree laying on the water at sunset. I look for the spaces where the geometric patterns of human enterprise - canals, oil platforms, pipelines and roads - collide with nature's organic forms. In my photographs, one can make out different varieties of grass, distinguish living cypress trees from those that have been killed by saltwater intrusion, or see the patterns made by sediment as it is carried through freshwater diversions from the Mississippi River.