The bride is no spring chicken. But her smile overshadows the lines in her face as she hikes up her dress and hoists herself into the carriage.
The black and white photograph was shot in Abbeville in 1975 by Philip Gould. It was around then that Gould had left his newspaper job in Dallas to move to south Louisiana to document life here.
In his latest exhibit, Photographs of the Human Terrain, opening at Galerie Eclaireuse this weekend, Gould displays 20 photos from throughout this career. “The human terrain is one of my favorite themes, and it gets expressed here nicely — the whole concept of man’s hand on the landscape and the grassroots that play an incredibly vital function here, in the interrelationship between what man builds and the landscape he builds it on. That just comes to the fore constantly in these photographs.”
In addition to some of his early work, Gould will also show some of his photos from the project he’s been working on for the past year. The book of images, whose working title is Becoming Acadiana, will focus on the settlement and development of the 22-parish Acadiana region. It’s scheduled to be published in fall 2010 by LSU Press. It will feature historic buildings and interiors, landscapes, iconography and cemeteries. The book “will try to get a sense of history and place without photographing people, per se.” Without people in the frame, Gould is rediscovering “the magic of the landscape,” he says. “I’m sure it was just as magical back then as it is now, even though it was a lot harder to live in.”
Photographs of the Human Terrain also includes images of a fully illuminated opera house stage in Crowley, without a soul in attendance, shot from the back rows. There’s a majestic oak, dripping in Spanish moss and filtering sunlight through its branches. And a small chapel with two windows of red and blue glass panes gives off an unworldly purple glow.
“Every time I turn around,” Gould says, “the process of photographing in Louisiana is incredibly rich. I’m always surprised by what appears. It’s an unbelievable place to photograph.”
Photographs of the Human Terrain, an exhibit by Philip Gould, opens on Saturday at Galerie Eclaireuse (535.5 Jefferson St. in Lafayette) and runs through March. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, March 14 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. For more information on Gould’s work, visit www.philipgould.com . For more information on the exhibit, visit www.galerie-eclaireuse.com or call 234-5492.