Places for the Spirit
Traditional African American GardensA mystical and spiritual portrait of African American folk gardens in the South
Places for the Spirit is a stunning collection of over 80 documentary photographs of African American folk gardens and their creators in the Deep South (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina). These landscapes have a unique historical significance due to the design elements and spiritual ...
- Published: August 2010
Places for the Spirit is a stunning collection of over 80 documentary photographs of African American folk gardens and their creators in the Deep South (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina). These landscapes have a unique historical significance due to the design elements and spiritual meanings that have been traced to the yards and gardens of American slaves and further back to their prior African heritage. These deceptively casual or whimsical foliage arrangements are subtle and symbolic reminders of the divine in everyday life, the cycles of nature, and implied right and wrong ways to live. In the spirit of outsider” art traditions, blues musical roots, and other such folk manifestations, these gardens have a unique aesthetic and cultural significance. Over 20 years in the making, this is the first collection of fine art photography to document this subject and, as such, it adds greatly to our understanding and appreciation of this disappearing element of African American culture.
“Every once in a while, a unique and wonderful book appears. [This] is one of those extraordinary books.” — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"What she captured with her camera is the depth of meaning that these gardeners intended.” — Washington Post
“Looking at these black and white images sometimes feels like dropping paper flowers in a glass of water and watching them expand. Vaughn Sills's images make the mind expand like a rose, fragrant with vision.” — Hilton Als
“The photographs and Sills' sharing of the gardens and stories of their creators, in such an extraordinary and beautiful way, testifies to a remarkable documentarian and artist, and a visionary capable of stepping outside the fences of ordinary aesthetics into a realm of magic.” — Oyster Boy Review
“The art was never easy to find, materializing like night blooms in the woodlands and graveyards of rural black communities. Vaughn Sills, a Boston-based photographer, learned to look near historic downtowns, on the black side of the railroad tracks. And yet, she said, she had put perhaps 3,000 miles on rental cars in order to find 150 traditional African-American yards and gardens. Many of these appear in her beautiful 2010 book, Places for the Spirit.” — The New York Times
- Garden Writers Association Best Photography Book Award
- Christian Science Monitor Best Gardening Book Award
- Bookbuilders West Book Show Certificate of Merit