Wash and Dry: Erica McDonald’s Laundry Sherpas of Brooklyn


The photographic story The Laundry Sherpas of Brooklyn explores possible relationships with urban and seemingly inaccessible natural environments, documentation and fiction, as well as the encounter between the viewer and the image.

The Laundry Sherpas of Brooklyn
The Laundry Sherpas of Brooklyn

Investigating relationships of reality and fiction, Erica McDonald developed the project during the course of a year. Her documentation of the Gowanus Canal and individuals carrying laundry articulates a poignant remark concerning our movement across common terrains. In her own words:

“Journeying through the outskirts of their borough, the laundry sherpas of Brooklyn traverse the urban-industrial into the psycho-geographical territory of shifting land utilization. In hopes of finding the river, they bear their loads and navigate through the built landscape, confronting a lack of a natural environment in which to cleanse their daily habits.

The Laundry Sherpas of Brooklyn

“They travel through the transitional landscape and the edges of those places where nature and the man-altered topography intersect, but cannot escape the walls which line their path. The laundry sherpas of Brooklyn discard their belongings, rest, and recall a bucolic past in an effort to release the weights they carry, but unless they regain the memory of the way to the river, they will have no choice but to abandon their quest in the terrain vague and return to a consumptive society.”


The Laundry Sherpas of Brooklyn

See more of the project in Erica McDonald’s website.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Erica McDonald is a photographer and educator who lives in New York City. She founded DEVELOP Photo to provide resources for the enrichment of the photojournalism, fine art and documentary photography community. Her photography is regularly commissioned for magazines nationally and internationally and has been exhibited worldwide.

DEVELOP Photo’s collaboration with documentarist Daniel Meadows was featured in The SIP Blog. Follow this link to read more.