Peter C. Stitt: A Southern Verse

Exploring the Contemporary Rural South

Published on 09/29/ 2021

A Southern Verse is the culmination of a five-year project seeking to take an unbiased look at the landscape of small towns in the southeastern United States. Though, at times, evoking feelings of nostalgia and familiarity, I have sought to play with the lines of structures and objects, both natural and artificial, allowing viewers to explore, examine, and navigate each photograph.

The project began through the same process in which I usually work and cultivate ideas. I shoot and develop concepts on the go, in a very organic, almost street-photography-like process where I let the ideas come to me when they will.

Making a change from exploring the more urban setting of downtown Augusta, Georgia, I had started venturing out to smaller communities in the surrounding areas of Georgia and South Carolina. I can't say precisely why I began gravitating to these smaller towns, but as I visited more and more of them, I started to see things coming together.

I conceive ideas visually from the start, and as I see things, I begin piecing images together, composing both formally and conceptually. There was no solid definition of a project for a good bit of time, except that the content was consistent. It took close to a year for a more tangible concept to come together, and even then, it was rough around the edges.

Over time, though, it became clear that the towns I was visiting were seemingly no different from those we traveled through growing up. Instead, these places seemed stuck in a time loop where as much as they changed, they very much stayed the same. There was something beautiful about it, though. There is a seemingly stoic sense of both a desire to progress and a stubborn hesitancy to change.

Growing up in the south, though, something comforting repeatedly brought me to these places. The lines, the light, and the subtle things that make them feel definitively of the region are features that drew me in. There is a familiarity regarded by many, even by those from outside of the area. However, there is an almost emotional connection to those from the south that is hard to ignore.
As with all my work, though, I desired to portray details of a region that are both comforting and familiar yet elicits questions that seek answers only the viewer can provide. Recording a landscape that is oddly common and curiously foreign, I want to guide the audience on a journey through the southern landscape in a way that is free of both criticism and praise, leaving one free to contemplate the environments as they are.