Chasing the sun in South Carolina, observing the most venomous lizard in Arizona, setting up campfires in Georgia, and paddling across the wild water in Texas, Baylor faculty Kurt Emmanuel, better known as Mr. E, is always “in the thick of the action.”
For the past 40 years, his zealous attitude towards outdoor activities has not been easily dampened. When I sat down with Mr. E, he had just returned from another regular overnight trip to the Black Mountain in North Carolina. Growing up in Cheektowaga, New York (a suburb of Buffalo), Mr. E’s attraction to the woods started sixth grade when he was still a highly dedicated boy scout. During his time at Cornell University, Mr. E dived deeply into the study of wildlife management. Since then, there was no going back. “Every location is different, every season is different, every direction is different. Every time I go, it’s different.” Mr. E’s craving for such diversity bonds him tightly with nature.
Other than an accomplished outdoor adventurer, Mr. E also is a skilled photographer. At Baylor, Mr. E combines these two passions and composes pictures of nature that are honored by both his colleagues and professional magazines. To Mr. E, “there is always a narrative behind the picture,” and it represents something bigger than the image itself. A photograph of the Foster Falls, for example, holds an inspiring story. Several years ago, this gorgeous waterfall was becoming private property, and people were not able to visit this site after the purchase. To help preserve the view, students at Baylor, along with thousands of other Tennessee residents, wrote petitions to the government, doing everything they could to save this scenery. In the end, the state bought this land and saved it for the public. Looking at the silky water falling into the deep icy pond, thinking about the heartwarming story behind the photograph, who cannot but appreciate this breathtaking view?
Currently, a selection of Mr. E’s photographs is being displayed in Roddy theater. Many of them are taken throughout a long span of 30 years during his conquer of the Appalachian Trail. During these years, Mr. E “takes the time to slow down and enjoy the scenery.” “Not rushing through it” becomes the life philosophy he lives on. Perhaps, after all, we all deserve to take some time off and enjoy the tranquility in this fast-paced world.