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The President's Heads

I don't know how I keep winding up in places chest-deep in weeds, however, I am thoroughly intrigued by history and I wanted to do a shoot of the "Presidents' Heads."

In Williamsburg, there was a beautiful walking park dedicated to American presidents, which after 2 or 3 years, went bankrupt. In the park were 20 feet tall, concrete busts of the American presidents, 43 in all with George W. being the last one. The statues were slated to be destroyed when the park closed because there was no place to put them.

A farmer who deals in concrete recycling, however, loved the original project and paid $50,000 to save the statues. He moved them to his field to open another park. After issues with vandalism and people sneaking onto the property to take pictures of the giant historical heads, he opted to do photo tours on the property instead.

I chose a night shoot because there is something haunting about the presidents. It was intriguing and haunting to stand there and look at them all. The busts are 20 feet tall. They are huge! When you stand there and look at them, they are imposing. But they are all in a state of astonishing decay. The concrete is peeling off and being stained with a dark black mold. Many have a piece missing out of the back. They are imposing figures and many seem to look at me - disappointedly. They all look sad.

This seems to scream where we are as a nation today. I heard a quote once - that Ben Franklin came out of Independence Hall and someone asked him what type of government he had given the American people, and he said, “I have given you a Republic. Now let’s see if you can keep it.” I think we are at that point now. We are in danger of not being able to keep the Republic. And these heads, the presidents, seem to look disappointed. They look sad. And as I looked, I wondered how many of them are gazing out and thinking, "You are not holding on to what I entrusted you with."

As with most abandoned projects, the general population has abandoned this place. Nobody goes there anymore. It’s not on a map. It's abandoned. And in this situation, we as a country have abandoned the presidents and what they left for us, their values. I think we as a nation have abandoned them, they did not abandon us. And when I look at them, I almost feel like I have to say I'm sorry.


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