Magdalena Sole has published a portfolio of her photographs of the Mississippi Delta in the latest issue (Issue 28) of the on-line photomagazine Fraction.
Magdalena was born in Spain while Franco was dictator of that country. Her family fled to Switzerland, where she learned what life is like as a stranger, as one who, as she says, had to live while "navigating a society that was very hostile to outsiders." Here, she says, she learned "to understand exclusion, and a life lived at the margins."
As a result, she felt at home in the Mississippi Delta: "I was drawn to the people I met in the Delta," she says. "Unlike most people I had encountered in other areas, Delta people allowed me to slip into their midst as if they had known me forever; we could swap stories and laughter, sorrow and silence. This happened not just once or twice; it happened every day in every town. In the most unexpected places I found kinship. I arrived as an outsider, but I was gradually so absorbed into the fabric of life there that I felt not like an outsider but rather like the family member who happened to have the camera."
Magdalena says, "The Delta evokes visions of sharecroppers, plantations and, of course, the sound of the Blues. The area has a small wealthy gentry and a large impoverished underclass living in dilapidated houses and tilting trailers. The Delta is one of the poorest places in the United States with the saddest infant mortality rate, rampant unemployment and little hope for a better future."
On the other hand, she says, "What is little known is the resilience, resourcefulness and family cohesiveness of its people." Its this quality of Delta life that she captures well in her images. She's been to the South many times now, and we hope she keeps coming back.
Hope she meets Kathleen Robbins on one of her trips -- I expect they would have a lot to say to each other as they look at each other's work. I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.
See more of her work on the Fraction website, and also on her home page, and watch for her forthcoming book entitled “New Delta Rising," to be published by the University Press of Mississippi in early 2012.