Up River intimately documents a region and its people. It's a record of the land that straddles a river as it carves two countries apart. From a distance, the border appears simple and stark. Mexico on one side, the United States on the other. It's so obvious that most of us take the separation for granted. One can point to it on a map and declare "Beginning" or "End." But up close, gaps appear. Lines which were previously so permanent and consequential begin to bend and blur until eventually they distort beyond recognition.
One might eventually wonder if they ever really understood the border in the first place. One might wonder if any of it makes any sense. After walking the wall it's impossible to ignore the contradictions and convolution involved in attempting to keep people apart. One marvels at the hubris of the notion that it would even be possible to separate people along a contrived line in the sand. By talking with the people who live there, the symbiotic complexity and nuance of relationships between people and communities across the border comes clearly into focus.
These underrepresented people and besieged communities are on the front line of one of the fiercest battles in American politics. An issue so divisive that it challenges the foundation of the nation's identity. Too often these people who have a far more profound understanding of the issues than anyone else in the country go tragically unheard. Their lives are dictated by abstract policy decisions made in faraway places by politicians catering to constituents whose eyes never glimpse the truth behind the wall.
The first phase of this ongoing project was produced during a solo road trip beginning in Brownsville, TX where the Rio Grande meets the Gulf of Mexico and culminates in El Paso/Juarez, the historic Northern passage where the river diverges from the border and heads up toward its headwaters nestled in the San Juan Mountains. The photos capture the faces of the people who live in the region, the tragic events which shape their lives and the immense beauties of the landscape which surrounds them. All revealed by the relentlessly baking borderland sunlight.