Sunday, July 12, 2009

Trotter: Memories, Water and Life

Last night, I stumbled across a photographer, John Trotter, who was almost beaten to death in the late 90s while on assignment for our old paper, The Sacramento Bee.

The attack left Trotter unable to walk and with major brain injuries. But today he has regained his career and has shot impressive and evocative photos, ranging from Mexican babies in the dry Southwest to men and women struggling to recover their lives after suffering injuries or disease.

It was an arduous journey for John as well. He says he not only had to learn how to walk again but “re-learn how to remember.”

Our chance meeting came in Sacramento, where we are visiting. He was in the city for an exhibit at the Viewpoint Gallery of some of his work, a series of photos called “The Burden of Memory.” They were taken at the brain injury clinic where Trotter did much of his rehab.

I asked him about a project he was working on that was not on display but mentioned in some biographical notes at the show. It is called “No Agua, No Vida” (No Water, No Life) and deals with the Colorado River in a far-flung way.

The Colorado River is the main artery for much of the American Southwest, including Southern California. It has been dammed and diverted over the years and now is only a relative trickle when it enters Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Mexico is not happy about that. In the U.S., states battle over the rights to the river water, much of which flows 242 miles across the desert to quench the thirst of Los Angeles.

It also has turned the Imperial Valley, a scorching-hot bit of sandy desolation, into a sometimes thriving industrial-agricultural community where I grew up. In fact, my first paid assignment as a reporter involved coverage of a campaign there to secede from California because of Colorado River water issues.

Trotter’s photos capture the desolation of the desert and dramatically depict how the water is being used and its impact on the lives of many.

You can see and purchase his photos on his Web site. In addition to the Viewpoint show, Trotter’s work is scheduled to be on display beginning Sept. 19 at the Mumm Fine Art Photography Galley in Napa, Ca. Sphere: Related Content

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