The objective of this body is to investigate spaces that are evolving as a result of the socioeconomic paradigm at work in our country, i.e., post-active industrial sites that are the byproduct of planned obsolescence in American industry. Because they are disappearing so quickly, I have focused primarily on 19th-century grain elevators, cotton gins, and textile mills.
While these businesses were germinal in the development of our rural countryside, their abandonment is merely another exit on the highway to a global community. As farmers truck their grain far from home to provide their families with a few dollars more, the rural industries that made our small towns prosper are slowly vanishing. In their absence, we find cultural sterility where the pervasiveness of the larger media has overwhelmed the more intimate exchange of knowledge that once occurred at the local elevator as country folk waited for their grain to unload or be ground into feed for their animals.
Like the ancient Egyptians, who created many of the classic sculptures we revere today yet had no word for “art,” American builders of the 19th-century had few thoughts of their work as art. Exploring the duality between grace and function within these structures provides a visual key to a place in the American mindset that exists now only in history.
Through documenting these cultural remnants, I am neither promoting the past nor denouncing the present; I’m simply paying homage to a few of our forebears’ successes, remembering them as we enter an age when uncertainty and self-assurance may be our most frequent companions.
The enlarged silver gelatin prints help convey the vastness of space within these mills, while the 5×7 and 8×10 platinum/palladium prints bear the broader function of documenting the less- dimensional exterior scenes, the structural elegance of the work places occupied by laborers of the past, and the artifacts these workers left behind.