A Makeshift Home
"Why would you want to take my picture? I'm just going to break your camera... and it looks expensive," were the first words that I ever heard my grandfather speak. I met him for the first time when I began this project. This work focuses on the place where I grew up - Swea City, Iowa, a rural farm town that is slowly deteriorating.
Initially I found myself photographing the empty buildings, but I soon became overwhelmed by how forlorn the entirety of town was. A plant sits next to the road, slowly dying, only to be forgotten. Paint chips and windows break in a building next to the post office, never to be seen or thought of and that's just the way it is.
It has become imperative to me to document the city as a whole rather than to focus on small parts to depict the changes that happen quickly over time. After photographing the Swea City residents, I have realized that they have not noticed how it is falling apart. Sometimes being too close to a thing does not allow you to see it for what it is. It just is. Like the grandfather I grew up not knowing – or peeling paint. These things, like cut grass clippings, are transient. Swea City not only speaks about itself, but every broken down, forgotten city.
My grandfather died two months after I started this project, before I could ever show him his photograph, before I could ever hear him speak again, and before I could get to know whom he even was. A part of myself will continue to go on missing if I do not keep photographing this town and finding the pieces that are not noticed, before they are lost and gone forever.
That Invisible Feeling
Because we all feel it - that invisible feeling.
This work expresses that feeling we all get sometimes. That aloneness we feel, but cannot voice. These photographs are taken in places that people pass by unnoticed.
Westridge is a small snippet into a day in the life of my father. It chronicles in a very small fashion daily chores for a pig farmer - his office, the shop, and the barn.
When I was younger, I truly disliked going to the barns. The smell was unforgiving and it clung to your nose and I swore the smell came out of your sweat for days. I did not understand until much older the hard work that my father went through daily, just to support my family. This is an ode to him.
It shows how much work can be done in just a day, from hauling broken pig feeders home to be welded in his shop, mixing penicillin shots to keep the sick pigs healthy, and power-washing barns after pigs have been loaded out, just to start all over again.