This body of work is from a new project that is currently ongoing. It's about rural Illinois and small towns. It deals with cultural aspects that I feel personify rural life here in Illinois.
I hope I've approached this project with an objective point of view and have attempted to let myself and my work be directed by the environment within which I travel in. I have discovered that much of what I've seen is not the expected idyllic prairie state covered with beautiful rolling fields of tall grasses. Instead, Illinois is a state long monopolized by mechanized agricultural farming, creating endless fields of corn and soybeans and leaving several hundred economically challenged older small towns doting the landscape. Within this geographic and economic framework I'm searching for strong notions of individualistic expression that are tied directly to the land and its people. Through observation this work explores that expression visually.
Living in a major metropolitan city all my life has challenged me to learn more about rural culture, and as someone who is admittedly an outsider, I'm trying to discover for myself the differences that separate my own perception of rural life and what I find to be that reality, whether real or imagined. I'm not so much concerned with trying to unravel the meaning of what I've photographed as much as I'm trying to understand the circumstances by which the events or subjects I've photographed have occurred. Much of my work centers on rural environments where people are caught living, either by choice or otherwise, on the fringes of society, disenfranchised, isolated by low economic status, and living outside the norms of mainstream society.
A slow deterioration of the economic fabric of rural life is evident in many towns I explore and this consciousness has entered into my work. I don't intend to disparage the rural landscape, but I can't help but feel that this was a land far more prosperous a few generations ago. Having said that, I find other aspects of rural life wonderfully eccentric, filled with individualistic expression and personality. Individuals and places that define the core meaning of what it means to live a rural existence are a central part of what I'm looking for.
I realize that a photograph can lend more ambiguity than clarity to its meaning. Many of my photographs hold this attraction for me and it's this idiosyncratic quality that also pushed me creatively. A photograph is a factual, fixed moment in time, but just how much truth, or untruth that is inherent in the work remains to be questioned. I respectfully have left these questions up to the viewer to discern for him or herself.