This portfolio represents a series of images captured while exploring abandoned spaces in the Northeast.
A sewing station in a textile mill sits abandoned but intact, as if the worker walked out mid-shift and never returned. You can picture her sitting there; you can see the color choices she made in gathering her work materials. Christmas decorations sit idly on a desk as though waiting to be hung for the season. A calendar lies on the floor open to the last day. At an abandoned resort in the Catskills lounge chairs sit poolside next to the encroaching fern forest that patiently reclaims the site. Another resort bursts with discarded furniture; the naked elevator shaft stands sentry over the grounds. Trollies, trains and busses rot away in a forest deep in Pennsylvania. We no longer harbor the dreams of the railroad age cultivating mass transport; we’ve become a nation of independents finding our own ways across the landscape and through our lives.
Photographing these sites is a solitary venture. Deep silence wraps around me as I stoop to peer through the viewfinder of the camera mounted on the tripod. No generator sounds from deep within the bowels of the building. Florescent lights do not hum above my head; the furnace fails to provide vibrations through the soles of my boots. I’m wearing my hiking gear and as I move through the building I feel the security of my weatherproof clothing and my daypack, water bottle snugged into the side pocket. When I walk my boots crunch through broken glass, and years of dust and decay. These sounds amplify my interruption, my intrusion on the space and they remind me to act with grace and deference to what happened here when the place was alive.
This is the dissolution of our culture – right before our eyes. As a child I spent weeks each year staring out at the countryside from the backseat of our car while we moved across country at regular intervals. I had no hometown – my roots lay in a nomadic lifestyle. The constant visual stream of billboards, neon signs, storefronts defined our culture as one of consumption. This notion was echoed on the television in countless motel rooms at night.
We continue to build, celebrate, then to abandon our commercial icons. Nothing is permanent, though when we built these factories and trains and swimming pools they were constructed of stone and steel – evidence of our hope and commitment. Like spoiled children we turn our backs upon these places when they no longer serve our desires, and they are left behind to decompose slowly back into the earth.
These empty places are monuments to our past, reminders of our future. They are a testament to our fears. They exist in a limbo outside the lines and behind the façade of prosperity – a map of our collective cultural psyche in year 2015. We want to preserve our past, but we write our history to tell only part of the story. These places sit in waiting and keep our secrets.
Photographing is a means of preservation. Finding small moments, splashed color within these spaces, like sparks of memory just outside our reach, remind us that they once harbored dreams and lives and the objects of our desires – now forgotten.
This series was created as part of a sabbatical project while I was teaching near NYC. I lived in a small section of the Bronx, City Island, which was a little-known gem of a nautical "town" within the Bronx. I became interested in those hidden pockets of magical neighborhoods all over the five boroughs. The series was titled, "Outside the Lines".
More images to follow, and you can see them on the blog.
A wise person once told me that the best camera she has is the one she has with her in this moment. The photographs that make up this portfolio are daily captures with my iPhone. They chronicle my walks, my explorations and the places and things that capture my attention every day.
One day I decided to weave together two maps as part of a book I was constructing. I enjoyed the process, and I enjoyed what I thought about as I was weaving the pieces together: the dry, arid desert feel of Morocco woven into the tropics of Florida. What were the people in these places doing? How do these countries relate to each other? What are borders anyway? I began creating the weavings and then attaching them to wood surfaces. Sometimes I weave in colors, using embroidery thread. Finally, the pieces are coated in wax, further obfuscating meaning and forcing the viewer to look hard through the surface into the meaning underneath. The music weaves are another idea along the same lines, using the same techniques.
Finally, the tree installations are pieces made while at an artists' residency in the Catskills in 2015.
This is a signed, limited edition book of photographs of deserted properties and abandoned spaces. The images were made in 2014 and are part of an ongoing project by the photographer. The book was printed by Conveyor Arts and is available as a signed, numbered copy. The book is printed in two editions of 20. To read the artist statement about this body of work click here.
These images were captured throughout a five week journey through Morocco. Our home base was Rabat and we road-tripped through this culturally and geographically diverse country - along the coast, through the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert - to the Mediterranean Sea.
These images were captured during several road trips and visits to various locales in the U.S. From New York to Nevada, along Route 66, New Orleans, Asbury Park and Detroit. Along Route 66 there is an effort to preserve the nostalgia of the 1960's, while in Detroit neighborhoods are experiencing a revitalization through new community initiatives including art installation and returning the outlying urban blight to prairie lands. The 9th Ward of New Orleans is going through similar changes as recovery efforts are made by pioneers scooping up abandoned houses and rebuilding with a new community spirit. Asbury Park has witnessed a similar revival in recent years, while the old is preserved in New Mexico and offered to tourists and pilgrims in the form of miracles in Chimayo. Vegas lures the tourist trade with reproductions of cities worldwide. All of these efforts are part of a changing America wrestling with a post-industrial economy and a renewed culture.
As a recent transplant to the Front Range in Colorado, everything is new. The prairie skies, the changing light on the mountains, rugged western scenes - all new subjects, all fresh ideas to be explored. These are the everyday photographs I capture on walks and drives.