Dog Fork is a new and ongoing exploration of my grandparents, my grandfather in particular and the farmland in West Virginia where he lives, where he grew up. When I visit him, we drive narrow country roads together and he will tell me where all the houses used to be; the Bennet’s farm, the old Smith place, homes and barns have left little to no trace of themselves.
Exploring this land where my family has lived for hundreds of years is a kind of visual archaeology; what evidence remains? What stories hold truths, and which are myths?
Farrell took me to his childhood home on Dog Fork, a little creek in a steep, narrow valley. We hiked for hours, under humming electric lines and through prickling brambles. We arrived to find a decomposing structure; the wallpaper his mother had meticulously pasted up, the electrical wires his uncle had dutifully installed -- the evidence of their hands remained. The garden roses grew wild, mingling with the briars and poison ivy. As we walked away from his home, we took the country road he and his brother had taken to school every day; it was no more than a hint in the forest, a trick of eye to see.