“This Miracle” is a project about the landscape of rural dwellers in Brasil’s Bahia province, seen through the psychological layers of light and shadow and colour and texture. With wonder, I saw how these utterly impoverished people are able to find pleasure 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. While photographing there I became conscious that beneath the seeming mysticism of Bahia's culture - reflecting 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 family and religious values and practices which act as the centre of their lives. Overlaying all is a unique and ephemeral spirituality, a 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, and the warmth that emanates from the generous people who let me, a total stranger, into their homes. Celebrations and children playing with little more than their imaginations were glimmers of joy that 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.