“This Miracle” is a project about the landscape of rural dwellers in Brasil’s Bahia province, and the psychological layers of light and shadow and colour and texture. With wonder, I saw how these utterly impoverished people are able to find joy in the everyday, despite acute hardships. In contrast to the barriers North Americans erect in the name of privacy Baianos maintain a remarkable openness. I saw strength, endurance, and hope surfacing in daily life and the common threads that bind us.
A large segment of the Bahian population is marginalized because of poverty (Brasil is a melting pot of Europeans, Amerindians, and Africans of which over one third is poor and vulnerable). While photographing there I became conscious that beneath the seemingly mystical Bahia's culture, that reflect a co-mingling of African and Portuguese-derived religions, lies a very difficult, even harsh, world of destitution, landlessness, and/or homelessness. People struggle to survive - and do not always succeed - but are sustained, at least in part, by religious practices, which intersect with a more ephemeral spirituality. It is the unifying emotional undercurrent that is saudade – an ache for something long gone or yet to come.
My work catches a glimpse of a complex place full of complex lives. It is about the warmth I felt from the many generous people who let me, a total stranger, into their homes. I watched celebrations, and children playing with little more than their imaginations. These glimmers of joy in the festivities and fun contrasted sharply with the stark sense of abandonment I perceived just below the surface - a pervasive mood of sadness at having been forgotten, or the longing that is saudade.