Seph Lawless recently made headlines with his incredible photographs of this abandoned mall, covered in snow.
The artist/activist specializes in capturing stark, iconic images of forgotten and abandoned places, evoking a sense of contemplative solitude and pensiveness.
His latest project is no different. He offered A+ an exclusive look at a journey that took him away from the fallen capitals of commerce and into the remote, swampy wilds of the American South.
Somewhere in the wet, green backwoods of the Louisiana bayous, stretches a small plot of land that has been all but forgotten.
There, behind the drooping willows and twisting cypress branches, is a quiet clearing.
That clearing was — and still is — the final resting place of the animal companions of people who loved them.
It's a pet cemetery, unkept since the early '80s when it was abandoned.
It's the subject of Lawless' latest photographic journey into abandoned places that will be released February 13 as a gorgeous book entitled "Pet Cemetery: In Loving Memory."
He is donating proceeds of the book to The Humane Society.
For Lawless, whose explorations have earned him accolades and attention across major media outlets and viral networks, the idea of giving back through his art is nothing new.
In an interview with A+, he said,
"I identify as an activist and artist. I've helped raise money for various causes over the years, from clothing the homeless to local food banks. I always loved animals, but that idea didn't come to me until I started photographing the pet cemetery. "
His affection for his subject matter is evident.
His introduction to "Pet Cemetery" underscores his understanding of the special relationship between people and their animal companions.
"One thing most humans have in common is an insatiable love for animals, especially pets. We show this love and admiration for pets in many ways during their lives that are spent with us and some of us even show it after they die."
In his survey of the area, he found some beautifully strange remnants of the property's now-lost structures.
In one corner of the land were vines and trees that had once surrounded a building.
"It was extraordinary to see the vines and brush still take shape of the house that had fallen down," he told us. "I mean it was so creepy to see that."
"It was like a ghost of a house and it felt completely surreal to walk inside it."
But some of the things he ran across were more poignant reminders of the land's purpose.
"I came across a headstone where the dog owner put dog food on it, and it was still there almost 30 years later." he told us. "I was moved."
"In that moment, the whole conceptual view of the project changed."
"I realized that I wasn't going to portray these images as just stark and obscure, but rather the beautiful and loving side of what I was seeing and feeling."
The images bear witness to the way we grieve, to the rituals that help us find solace in loss.
Engraved stones and soft ground hold more than the earthly remains of our friends. They are also embedded with memory.
The very act of creating a memorial is as much an act of preserving life as it is mourning death.
It's strange to think that the owners of some of these pets are probably also gone by now, remembered and memorialized and missed.
Lawless' work is a broader way of remembering what might otherwise have been forgotten.
His love of abandoned places keeps them from slipping too far away, but more importantly, helps us to take inventory, not only of things we have loved, but also of the things we still love.
The book, like the memorials, is a labor of love.
In his book's introduction, Lawless writes
"The images are edited both in loving memory of all the animals buried here..."