In 2008, with the help of a Guggenheim Fellowship, I returned to my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, in search of something. Fueled with memories of the past, I turned my lens on the only Nashville I had available to me, the present day city. As I began photographing, I began to see parts of myself in the pictures, and to reconsider the meaning of home.
I had happily left Nashville for New York 20 years before. My family had moved within Nashville 17 times by the time I was 19. I also grew up surrounded by musicians and music, but knew early on that photography was my medium, an alternate kind of songwriting, really. Just as an album tells a larger story held together by its individual songs, each photograph tells its story to structure the series.
My parents were classical musicians in the 1960’s, members of the Nashville Symphony. My mother played flute, my father the French horn. They met in the symphony, fell in love and got married. Soon after my brother and I were born. On Sundays, as a young family we would have dinner at my grandparents’ house.
The day after Christmas 1968 my grandfather, Edwin F. Tewksbury, died on the operating table. The doctors were not able to get his heart beating again during open heart surgery. I was one year old.
My grandfather was a Methodist minister. He had come to Nashville with my grandmother and mother from Bangor, Maine 20 years earlier, on Thanksgiving Day 1949 to start a new job at the Methodist board there. They told my 10 year old mother that they were leaving only a few days before.
The songs I came to write about Nashville echo this series of measured displacements. They are ones of leaving and coming home again to a place that maybe never was home, of an attempt to take root in a city my family was only ever passing through.