Since 1990, when I received a Fulbright Fellowship to photograph rural life in the Basque Country of southwest France, the heart of my work has been informed by this extraordinary region and its habitues. During the past two decades I have returned at least twice a year, and it has become for me a second home, one whose shifts have resonated with my own evolution as a documenter of place and community and spirit.
Many of the old people in St. Jean Pied de Port and its surrounding villages speak not French or Spanish, but Euskara, the Basque language. This linguistic seclusion has contributed to their reputation for being closed and distrustful. Yet since the first day of my first visit, when an elderly woman named Madame Hatoig invited me out of the rain and into her house, where she gave me slippers, hot tea, and madeleines, a generosity and openness have been echoed many times over by the shepherds, cafe owners, students, postal workers, and farmers I have come to know and who now let me photograph the interior of their lives. In their kitchens and barns, over their afternoon glasses or Ricard, through their evening strolls and familial embraces, I have hoped to discover things rooted in the particularities of one walk of life, but which also transcend it and hold value for anyone musing about beauty and trying to hold on, about disappearing and transforming, about finding family, finding grace, and becoming attuned to ancient rhythms of human relations to place, to seasons, to soil and time.