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The Painted Tombs of Swift: Fort Worth Stockyards—2016

 

In the spring of 2016, I was hired to record the Swift Meat Packing campus for preservation records. In a career spanning four decades, nothing could have prepared for the wonderment I would find.

 

It was as if back to the beginning of my career—forty years ago in Egypt—when I began photographing ancient sites, or in southern Mexico along the Usumacinta River to document unrestored jungle areas of Yaxchilan and Bonampak—ancient Mayan sites left to the forces of nature.

 

Eight abandoned dark-red brick buildings stood crumbling on a twenty-two acre area at the end of Exchange Avenue at the Fort Worth Stock Yards. Built in 1902 and abandoned in 1971, these substantial buidlings were headquarters for the Swift Meat Packing Plant, important to the success of Fort Worth as a city.

 

Somewhere along the way, these shells became a palette for graffiti artists, and most surfaces inside and outside were covered with brightly colored spray-painted designs and words. The empty painted spaces were reminiscent of painted tombs where spirits of the dead could peacefully reside, like the brightly painted New Kingdom tombs on the West Bank across the Nile River from Luxor Egypt.

 

The shifting equilibrium between nature and man was evident as the buildings collapsed and disintegrated. Luxuriant, wild green flora was triumphant and consuming—burying a grotesque past.

 

Not long after I made these photographs in the summer of 2016, all but two of the buildings were demolished due to failure of the existing structure. One of the buildings will be restored as a Fort Worth landmark.

CAROLYN BROWN PHOTOGRAPHER
BOW LAKE REFLECTION
BOW LAKE REFLECTION
MAROON BELLS REFLECTION
MAROON BELLS REFLECTION
WATER TREES
WATER TREES
PATHWAY AT LOST MAPLES
PATHWAY AT LOST MAPLES
BLUEBONNET ROAD
BLUEBONNET ROAD
MOSS VIEW BRIGHT
MOSS VIEW BRIGHT
MOSS VIEW BRIGHT
MOSS VIEW BRIGHT
MOSS VIEW DARK
MOSS VIEW DARK
CADDO FALL
CADDO FALL
CADDO RED
CADDO RED
BLUEBONNET FENCE
BLUEBONNET FENCE
TEXAS DESERT
TEXAS DESERT
GUADALUPE TREE
GUADALUPE TREE
CYPRESS KNEES
CYPRESS KNEES
BRYCE CANYON TREE
BRYCE CANYON TREE
GUADALUPE TREE
GUADALUPE TREE
SAGUARO CACTUS
SAGUARO CACTUS
OLD TREE LOST MAPLES
OLD TREE LOST MAPLES
BROKEN HOUSE
BROKEN HOUSE
TAMUL WATERFALL
TAMUL WATERFALL
CHIAPAS WATERFAL
CHIAPAS WATERFAL
PINK HORIZON
PINK HORIZON
BLUE HORIZON
BLUE HORIZON
SEA SUNSET
SEA SUNSET
HILL COUNTRY DEER
HILL COUNTRY DEER
SAND AND SEA
SAND AND SEA
LOST MAPLES
LOST MAPLES
LONGHORNS BLUE BONNETS
LONGHORNS BLUE BONNETS
MIDDLE TREE
MIDDLE TREE
SAND DUNES TEXAS
SAND DUNES TEXAS
SHIPROCK, NEW MEXICO
SHIPROCK, NEW MEXICO
CASTLEROCK, UTAH
CASTLEROCK, UTAH
FENCE AND BLUEBONNETS
FENCE AND BLUEBONNETS
RED, BLUE, YELLOW FLOWER COLOR
RED, BLUE, YELLOW FLOWER COLOR
TINY WATERFALL
TINY WATERFALL
FLOATING FEATHER
FLOATING FEATHER
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