Words & Photos, Like Father, Like Son: Willie & David Rae Morris
Last week marked the passing of vaunted Southern author, Willie Morris. Among his many encounters with literary success, a number of his works were made into motion pictures: ‘My Dog Skip,’ ‘The Ghosts of Medgar Evers,’ and ‘Good Old Boy: A Delta Boyhood’ (aka ‘River Pirates’). His son, David Rae creates his own photographic and filmic legacy while carrying on that of his father. In this 2018 piece, Via NOLA Vie’s Fowell Dunbar visits with the artist in his studio – Editor
Willie Morris, the acclaimed author and publisher from Yazoo City, Mississippi, spent a lifetime spinning yarns about his home state. In works like My Dog Skip and North Toward Home, he captures the region’s unique people, places and events, warts and all. Like William Faulkner and Shelby Foote, he grapples with what he called ”the old warring impulses of one’s sensibility to be both Southern and American.”
His son, David Rae Morris, who lives in New Orleans, chose to tell a similar story, only using different mediums, including still images and video. Over the years, he has photographed the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill, Saints fanatics at Vaughn’s Lounge, jazz musicians, Mardi Gras revelers, athletes, local celebrities, friends and fellow artists. Most recently, he ventured up to his father’s old stompin’ grounds to shoot the documentary, Yazoo Revisited, which explores the legacy of segregation and integration in the Mississippi Delta.
According to David, “Both New Orleans and Mississippi are very complicated. They are suffused with both history and beauty, but at the same time, tragedy and cruelty. They are a photographer and filmmaker’s dream.”