Terra Fondriest

Ozark Life
Location: Marshall, Arkansas
Nationality: American
Biography:     For the past ten years, Terra Fondriest has found herself on the journey of navigating motherhood.  In 2011, with the birth of her first child, she transitioned from her former adventurous career as a wildland firefighter and... MORE
Public Story
Ozark Life
Copyright Terra Fondriest 2023
Date of Work Jan 2017 - Ongoing
Updated Jul 2019
Location harrison, ar
Topics daily life, Documentary, Essays, Family, Friends + Family, ozarks, Photography, Photojournalism, rural
    I live in the rural Ozarks of Arkansas.  My husband and I landed here almost 12 years ago for his job, figuring we'd stay for a few years and then move on.  I did not think that this would be where we would start our family, raise our kids, send them to school, where we would become part of the community.  I think it happened slowly, just like the life down here; getting to know the people we worked with, meeting the other moms at the library during toddle time, becoming almost like family with our neighbors and relying on them for help and good company.  I guess you could say we got sucked in.  It seems like every day we are able to connect more dots down here, learning who is related to whom, where someone lives or grew up or who shot the most recent big buck.  There's always news of some kind to talk about and it's largely related to community.  That's something that feeds my soul, becoming familiar with the people around us and knowing that they care about us and being here for them too.  
    I began photographing stories for my Ozark Life project after attending the Missouri Photo Workshop in 2017.  Before that, I was almost solely documenting my family.  After the workshop, I gained the confidence to start photographing my community.  I realized that what we have here; the strong family histories and ties to the land, the daily life that revolves largely around the connection to the land, is unique.  I began spending days with people I knew, asking if I could bring my camera along.  That led to making more connections with people I didn't know as well, asking if I could spend time with them and bring my camera.  Before I knew it, I had a solid base of images for this long term project and an ever growing drive to keep going, realizing that I was just at the tip of the iceberg, photographing the everyday lives of the people who call these Ozark hills home.  Delving into the history of this area, there have been several photographers who've done this previously, my favorite being Townsend Godsey who documented the people of the Ozarks between the 1930s and 1950s.  I find it fascinating how so much of what he photographed still goes on today, it might just look a little different because of modernization.  
    This project has been a way for me to connect and grow in my community.  It's been a way to start conversations with people I would otherwise never have the courage to speak to.  It's shown me the humanity that I am surrounded by.  I have a passion to document the struggles, quirky moments, rites of passage, and daily grind as they look here in the Ozarks.  I foresee this project continuing for at least 10 more years when my daughter will be a graduating senior in high school.  
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