All of Your Answers Lie In Nature

A Trip to Memphis/Como/St Louis/Indianola/Taylor/The Mississippi Delta

by Bea Chauvin


A few days before the end of my trip, Bill, Jackie and I, spent the evening, sharing stories, sitting on the porch of the house in Taylor, Mississippi. Our words were echoing in the trees, adding something to the natural resonance of the earth. Then, as light as a tiny cloud, silence hovered for a few minutes and Bill whispered in his low-key voice: “It was 1966 and I was in the ninth grade, the British invasion was happening with the Beatles, the Stones and Dylan, so all the kids were forming garage bands and some kids at my school had found a place to practice. It belonged to Leon Koury, a sculptor who had migrated with his parents from Syria. So, one day, I rode to Leon Koury’s studio, it was across the street from Doe’s Eat Place, in Greenville, Mississippi, and when I walked in, there were a lot of portrait heads and figures in clay and also easels with paintings. I immediately saw life in the clay because Leon could put life in the clay; I think my life changed at that moment. I just started showing up and doing minimal tasks for him like help him make molds, make plaster, clean up. We were very close; I thought of him like a father, like a friend, a mentor. He said so many wise things to me, but one of the things that keeps coming back to my mind is: “All of your answers lie in Nature.” I was young but I still think about that a lot.”

It was almost midnight; the long hypnotic musical trance of many crickets, the coyote shout in the far, the wind moving through the leaves, all these sounds and sensations were forming the facets of a diamond, the diamond of Nature. Something magnetic was happening while we were there, enjoying the beauty of that moment woven from our friendship. Nature was taking us into its celestial and soothing spirit, making Leon’s sentence, even more vivid and true.

All of Your Answers Lie in Nature belongs to From the Soul, which includes already Slivers of Luminescence. -Bea Chauvin


I am a French photographer and I live in Paris. When I was a child, my father was sent on a mission on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. So, during 4 years, we all lived on the military base. Much later, I realized how strongly these days had molded me. Yes certainly, the bright light of the Chesapeake Bay, the rhythm-and-blues songs my parents would dance to, the taste of peanut butter, maple syrup and pancakes, the beautiful music of the American language, the eerie-though-friendly jungle that had been my playground with its ravine and entangled lianas – all these elements combined to let grow what I call “my American roots”. The nostalgia of these multi-colored emotions took me back to the United States many times, from my twenties, up to now. There, on the land of my childhood, I have always the feeling to be at home, even if France is my country. During one of my trips, I fell in love with Memphis and the Mississippi Delta and made these places my new source of inspiration. Thanks to my family of Southern friends, I come back every year, work for the B.B. King Summer Camp kids, give guest talks, have exhibitions, create new projects about the Blues, and so on. Made of photographs and texts, a new Southern work always emerges from each of my trips.

Béatrice Chauvin