Born on the banks of the Mississippi River, in a small Delta town, Grant Ellis returns to his roots to capture an honest portrait of his home.
Identifying as one of the poorest states in the USA, a picture of poverty is predominantly associated with the Mississippi Delta. What isn’t immediately associated is the wider narrative of its inhabitants; their times of joy and despair, adventure and excitement, all moments held dear in Grant’s memory. With ‘Bless Your Heart’, Grant depicts the reality of this region, offering up the perspective of those who live there. Filled with intimacy and honesty, ‘Bless Your Heart’ is absent of staged imagery, yet due to the personal nature of the series, certain scenes — like the image of female riding in the back of a truck — evoke memories from Grant’s youth. Prior to the completion of the series, Grant explained, “While most bodies of work based on this area tell a very one-sided story, namely poverty, I’d like to have the chance to tell a more complete story. I want to go to a high school prom. I want to go drag racing with teenagers on a Saturday night. I want to visit churches. I want to spend time on the river with fishermen. I want to go on hunts. I want to visit farms, juke joints, and jails.” As a result, Grant delivers a genuine, humanized portrait of his home while subverting the negative stereotypes associated with this area of the States.
All images © Grant Ellis