The Ritz Herald
Mississippi River: Headwaters and Heartland to Delta and Gulf by David Freese. © George F. Thompson Publishing

Photographer David Freese Reveals the Mississippi River’s Complicated Past, Present, and Future

Aegon Transamerica Foundation announces the release of Mississippi River: Headwaters and Heartland to Delta and Gulf, a collaboration with George F. Thompson Publishing, the Center for the Study of Place, and Casemate Publishers

Published on July 02, 2020

The Aegon Transamerica Foundation, George F. Thompson Publishing, and Casemate Publishers are proud to announce the release of Mississippi River: Headwaters and Heartland to Delta and Gulf, the third book in acclaimed photographer David Freese’s trilogy on North American waters. In Mississippi River, Freese’s stunning photography takes readers on an epic 2,552-mile journey, from the iconic river’s source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Freese’s photographs cover a wide diversity of industry and farmland, cities and towns, landscapes and wildlife—while also revealing the constant flow of goods, grain, and fuel that travels up and down the United States’ major shipping artery. The book will be available July 4, 2020.

Made possible through the Aegon Transamerica Foundation’s support of the Center for the Study of Place and its American Land Publishing Project, Mississippi River comes at a moment of great change and reflection in the United States. As the country faces the challenges of tomorrow, it is also reckoning with its past. From the legacy of slavery and the removal of Indigenous peoples to modern-day environmental concerns and the ongoing dangers posed by increased flooding, Mississippi River reveals a complicated past, present, and future as humankind attempts to control nature.

“No one has rendered the Mississippi River as David Freese has in his remarkable new book of photography and text,” said publisher George F. Thompson. “His book is truly a gift to the nation, and all Americans should thank him and the Aegon Transamerica Foundation for making Mississippi River possible.”

Before setting his sights on the Mississippi River, David Freese spent fifteen years photographing the West and East Coasts of North America, resulting in two magnificent books—West Coast: Bering to Baja and East Coast: Arctic to Tropic—both published by George F. Thompson Publishing. His photographs have been published in a wide array of noteworthy publications and can be found in numerous museum collections across the country.

“The Mississippi River is a beloved, often romanticized character in American history, as reflective of American land and life as any other American place,” said Freese. “The United States depends on the Mississippi like no other river, and it is my hope that my photographs from the ground and the air convey the wonder, complexity, and depth of its being.”

Mississippi River includes a foreword by Sarah Kennel, the Donald and Marilyn Keough Family Curator of Photography at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Kennel places Freese’s images in the canon of landscape photography as a significant body of work that documents, critiques, honors, and sanctifies America’s most treasured river. The book also includes a long historical essay by the acclaimed and best-selling author Simon Winchester, who provides compelling descriptions and observations about a river that is so much more than a familiar name.

“We are honored to represent the George F. Thompson publishing program,” said Sam Caggiula, Director of Marketing and Publicity for Casemate Publishers. “It has been especially satisfying to meet and work with David Freese on Mississippi River. The scope of this project is immense and readers are going to love this book. We are also grateful to the Aegon Transamerica Foundation for its support, which made David’s endeavor possible.”

Since it was established in 1994, the Aegon Transamerica Foundation has supported nonprofit organizations that promote the arts and culture, civic engagement and community development, education and financial literacy, health and wellness, human needs and services, and the overall wellbeing of the communities where Transamerica’s employees live and work.

“At Transamerica, we believe our responsibilities extend beyond our core business, and we are committed to helping improve the wellness of our communities,” said Jay Orlandi, Chief Operating Officer of Transamerica and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Aegon Transamerica Foundation. “Mississippi River shows us a complex vision of America’s most essential waterway, one that is beautiful and immersive as well as striking and poignant. Freese’s photography has the ability to bring sharp focus to the challenges awaiting us with respect to sustainability, climate change, and environmental justice. That’s why we are so proud to support this important book about such an impactful resource. It is a necessary call to action for a responsible and sustainable future.”

Senior Writer