Unexpected Beauty


On the corner of New Africa Road and Harry Black Road, “in the middle of nowhere,” as some of the guys would say, surrounded by expansive, fertile farmland, sits Michael’s Machine Shop.  Behind the medal rollup doors, is a visual wonderland of built-up oil glistening in the humidity, shaved aluminum remnants sparkling like Christmas ribbon and heavy steel hammers quietly resting in the afternoon sun. 



The owner, Michael Edmonson, has operated his business for over 30 years.  Some of the shop workers have been there for more than 20.  Over time, the shop has become more than a place that specializes in repairing hydraulic cylinders, agricultural and industrial machines.  Most of the men working there, grew up together; they shop in the same stores, and attend the same churches.  The sense of family is an important part of their environment. 



I traveled to the Mississippi Delta with the intent on capturing images of the sweeping landscapes, big sunsets and of the haunting Mississippi River itself.  But what I found instead, in the small town of Clarksdale, was the unexpected beauty in Michael’s Machine Shop.  It wasn’t just of the vibrating colors and textures that filled the warehouse, but it was also the people who work there.  They combine their knowledge to find solutions to problems, they blow off steam together and always have each other’s back.  Michael said it best, “it’s like home.”