A Sense of Place: The Southern Landscape

February 24, 2015
"Taylor" ©2015 Melanie Morris
"Taylor" ©2015 Melanie Morris

InSpero believes when creative community flourishes, the city will flourish.  Today we feature two InSpero artists who are bringing beauty to our city. Michael Morris, Alabama author, reflects below on "A Sense of Place."  Melanie Morris, his wife, is the featured artist for the Hoover Library Southern Voices conference with her "Sense of Place: A Southern Landscape"  opening reception tonight at the Hoover Library 5:30-7:30 p.m. Her show will be displayed through April 1.


A sense of place is where our past never really is our past. It’s an impression on our memory that can be conjured up by a smell, a song or the mere mention of a geographical location.  

One of my favorite writers, Flannery O’Connor, said that “a writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet.” I think the same thing can be said of artists too.

For me, the sense of place where my past intersects with eternity is my homeplace. It’s not a section of land but a county, Taylor County, Florida to be exact. It’s the place where I can draw a genealogy chart documenting five generations of Hendrys, my maternal grandmother’s people who helped settle the area. It’s also the place where I can return and see rows of sable palms and sawgrass that line the coastline, the same way they did when my great-grandfather drove cattle for shipment to far away places like Cuba.

Taylor County is the place where I return to see the same unadulterated marsh that sits across the road from the house that once was my grandparent’s beach house, the place where family gatherings took place and we’d all fellowship around a sand bar in the Gulf to picnic on boats and dive for shells. It’s the place that sometimes stirs me with a grief and longing to reunite with the people who have slipped away. But more than anything this place comforts me, even in my dreams.

Late at night when sleep won’t come soon enough, I close my eyes and picture the land of my people. It is the place where my soul feels settled and full, where memories and present intersect as if time has stood still.

It’s the land where I connect with my younger brother. We ride in his off road vehicle and venture deep into the woods that are still untamed. The sable palms and red tipped vegetation spill out like a postcard from a land that time has forgotten. There’s a freedom in this place and a recognition that brings me back time and time again. And this place will continue to bring me back until the end of my days. ©Michael Morris

"God of Wonders II" ©2015 Melanie Morris
"God of Wonders II" ©2015 Melanie Morris


Follow Easter People on Facebook and Instagram (easter_people) for daily Lenten reflections featuring regional artists and Scripture verses to help us slow down and "behold" this season. Click here to read today's reflection features art by Sue Key.

"knee deep" © Sue Key
"Knee Deep" © Sue Key


Great thanks to the many who supported our Human Dignity Project show held at the Nest in Avondale on a chilly February 19th night.  Hundreds attended.  Many volunteered and gave of their time and money.

©Amy Henry Photography
©Amy Henry Photography
©Amy Henry Photography
©Amy Henry Photography

Pastors and community leaders joined together that morning to preview and pray for the event.

©Emily Kicklighter Photography
©Emily Kicklighter Photography
©Emily Kicklighter Photography
©Emily Kicklighter Photography

We would like to thank the following people and businesses for their financial donations and in-kind support of InSpero and the Human Dignity Project.

Salon U - in memory of Brett Berman

Ricky and Marjean Brooks

Deane Giles

Paige Albright Orientals

An Art Affair

Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church

Clerestory Inc

Birmingham Metro Diversity Coalition – Greg Townsend

Restoration Academy - Sandy Mulvaney

Avondale Brewery

Hop City

Vintage Wine Shoppe

The Nest

Baking Bandits

Seeds Coffee

A.G. Lighting

Alabama Funk (Ronnie Crutchfield)

205 Photography Jana Sobel

Jennifer Hunt Gallery

UPS Store Caldwell Mill location

Gabriel Tajeu

Nate K Creative

Wannabe Films Wayne Franklin

Emily Kicklighter Photography

Amy Henry Photography


Susan Gordon Pottery

Second Story

Dawn Curtis Design

Rachel Hunt

To make a tax-deductible donation to InSpero, please click on the donation link on our website or make checks to Clerestory, Inc. with InSpero in the memo line and mail to Clerestory, Inc. at Two Perimeter Park South, Suite 550 East, Birmingham, AL 35243.

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