Featuring more than 50 images the photographers made during their trips, the exhibition is both a celebration and elegy for the people and ways of life unique to the great artery that remains at the heart of the country.
In 1988, Dutch photographer and photo-journalist Aernout Overbeeke traveled to the U.S. to photograph the Mississippi River. Accompanied by his wife, who kept a journal of their trip, Overbeeke photographed the people and places that line the mighty river’s banks. Much as Twain observed in his book, Life on the Mississippi, published a century earlier, Overbeeke’s warm-hued images document the many souls whose lives are centered “by choice or accident of birth” on the river. The images from his trip appeared in several journals and magazines, including the Dutch culture magazine Avenue in 1989. Although the journey established Overbeekes’s career as a professional photographer, it failed to mend an increasingly fragile relationship between photographer and wife. Yet both look back on the experience as one of the most memorable of their lives.
In 2013, inspired by her father’s photographic work, Overbeeke’s daughter Teska retraced her parent’s steps. Discovering, often accidentally, many of the places her parents had visited, Teska with the help of her fiancé searched for the same people her father had photographed 25 years earlier. Teska, who was 8 years old at the time of her parents’ trip, relied heavily on her mother’s journal to find her way from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. During her trip, Teska discovered
her voice as a photojournalist and, much like her parents, connected with the people and places she found along the way. Hoping to document progress and rebirth in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Teska instead captured images that witness little change since her parents’ journey. Her photo essay and text, The Mississippi 25 Years Later, appeared in Dutch Elle magazine in 2013.