The Sugar Mill Sessions is an ongoing photography project focusing on sugar production in Southwest Louisiana. It attempts to give a localized, contemporary view of the industry by documenting harvest seasons of the sugar mills, Cajun Co-op, Louisiana Sugar Cane Co-op and Enterprise, as well as by shadowing the Judices, a family of farmers whose roots are buried seven generations deep in this industry. With the sugar industry as a passive backdrop to my upbringing, it was natural for me use its distinctive characteristics as indicators of “home” even after relocating as an adult. Originally, this work began in 2004 with the intention of capturing these traits in a purely formal documentary fashion, following the discipline of “photograph what you know.” I worked mostly at night during the harvesting season months of September through January, which gave way to a more expressive capture of the industry. This direction allowed me to give a unique perspective to an industry where sense of place is often viewed as burdensome or vexatious. Unique lighting conditions along with modernistic compositions allow the images more gentle, hushed qualities while remaining grounded in the innate industrial masculinity—something easily overlooked by those familiar with the landscape. The Sugar Mill Sessions is an ongoing body of work which has evolved going forward. Historically great artists have explored this complex industry that is ingrained in the culture of the South as it has a continual ability to serve as an umbrella for flavorful artistic expression, critique and research.
Gulf coast native David Armentor is an emerging artist who has been working in the photographic medium for the past nine years. He received a BA from Louisiana State University in 2004 where he learned the craft of photographic printmaking from traditionalist Thomas Neff. After graduation he taught photography classes for the Baton Rouge Arts Council and worked as a freelance photographer until moving to Seattle, Washington, where he continued his photographic endeavors with the Benham Gallery as an assistant curator and artist. He now resides in New Orleans, working as the digital imaging specialist for Tulane University’s School of Architecture and as the programming chair for the New Orleans Photo Alliance.
For more information about The Sugar Mill Sessions, log on to www.thesugarmillsessions.com.