Well, this was kind of crazy

I’ve known Ann since 2005 when I moved to far Western North Carolina. Sometime in 2006 I went to work for her at the non-profit she founded with twelve other enterprising women from the region: One Dozen Who Care, Inc.

Ann and I find each other, bits of each other in the other. And we often have words for the other, the same words that apply to ourselves. All of those words can be summed up in one … maybe two: Create. Produce.  By some serendipitous turn of events, my photography will be part of Ann’s Black in Black on Black: Making the Invisible Visible exhibit running from September 3 through the end of January 2022. 

Mr. Purel Miller

One afternoon while working at the office, Ann Miller Woodford’s father had come by, most likely with his healthcare worker. I think by this time he was no longer driving. The details of the day are fuzzy but I vaguely remember Purel may have been getting on Ann’s nerves so I offered to take him next door to my studio to take some pictures of him. He had his harmonicas, tape recorder and tales to entertain an audience of one. Ann told me that he didn’t really know how to play, but he liked to blow tunes. And I was okay with that. As much as I was obliging him, he was obliging me because I was still trying to figure out my new lights and some new gear I acquired. So here we were, two idealistic artists blowing and snapping away.

Ms. Marie McKinney and Ms. Dedie Lewis

Ann Miller Woodford’s project, When All God’s Children Get Together, had been a few years old when I was hired at One Dozen Who Care, Inc. She had hours of videotape from previous recording sessions, a treasure trove of historical documents, images, articles and all manner of reference material for the compendium that would finally be published about a decade later. Back then, though, she spoke about the folks in the community who were “aging out.” My words. Not her words.

It was a privileged opportunity to interview these two women. Both natives of the area, one remained in Andrews, the other left and came back to retire. They spoke about how their decisions impacted their relationship with their birthplace.