Elle Olivia Andersen: The Mountain Stands Still
I met Elle Olivia Andersen at the 2014 Southeast Society for Photographic Educator’s Conference in Greenville, North Carolina. She brought a well-developed portfolio of images of the Appalachian region of South Carolina which included some spectacular portraits of a mountain man. For the past year, Elle has continued to explore the region, and, in particular, the people that define the mountains. Her use of light and her sensitivity to the land and its inhabitants make for a well-seen and well-captured project.
Elle Olivia is a photographic artist residing in Columbia, South Carolina. Her current projects explore the culture and identity of the people who live in the American South. Elle is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in both Sociology and Biology with a minor in Studio Art from the University of South Carolina this year (2015). She began her exploration of photography as a creative outlet in 2010, beginning with digital and transitioning to large format film. She is the recipient of the 2015 SPE Undergraduate Regional Scholarship Award for the Southeast Region and the SPE Student Award for Innovations in Imaging and a contributor to Roger May’s Looking at Appalachia Project. She recently hosted the Smithsonian Magazine Instagram with her series The Mountain Stands Still.
Elle is currently promoting an edition of 12 handmade books in an accordion style, featuring 24 images from the series The Mountain Stands Still, which will be available for pre-sale on her website and set to arrive in the hands of their owners by October. She will be speaking about her work in a presentation in Greenville, SC during the Southeast Society for Photographic Education Conference set for November 6th-8th of this year.
The Mountain Stands Still
This series explores the life of a man named Robert and his deep attachment to the landscape. It investigates how the passage of time and connection to place can profoundly shape our values and identity. I became fascinated with Robert after meeting him in a small rural town in the Appalachian region of South Carolina. After a year of photographing this series, I am still unable to fully articulate the reason behind my enormous interest in a singular man’s life journey, other than to say that I was deeply curious about and genuinely interested in who he was as a person. From there, I became increasingly interested in his personal relationship with the landscape he called home, a place he felt at one with and could never imagine leaving. This feeling of belonging and being part of something larger than ourselves is what I find most intriguing when it comes to contemplating how we mold our outlook on life and ultimately, how this outlook and our personal and individual journeys influence how we choose to spend each day of our lives.
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