A Hand-Painted Delta

Story & Photos by Erin Austen Abbott


Something I love about being a photographer is the hunt.

When I think of a new body of work to focus on, I love diving in and the hunt of finding the subject. A few years ago I started a series called A Portrait of Mississippi. It’s an ongoing series, but one that captures Mississippi in ways otherwise unexpected. On a recent “hunting” trip for an upcoming show, I headed over to the Delta with my husband and son, to take pictures. What I found was much more than an addition to A Portrait of Mississippi. As we drove around, on what my three-year-old calls “our adventures”, we kept finding signs. We discovered advertisements for carpet or for soul food. We found blues clubs with hand painted murals along the walls of the buildings, dozens of signs, all hand painted. Each one different, but somehow tying together a region. This became a new body of work I call A Hand Painted Delta. There’s richness in these signs, and photographing them always leaves me feeling grounded, always more connected to my home.

When it comes to signs, were always looking for one. The good news is the South is full of them. Show us your favorites on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Make sure to tag The Bitter Southerner, and use our hashtag #BSLookingForASign