The rural farmland where I grew up in Southern Indiana will be disappearing. Kentucky and Indiana are soon to build a new bridge and highway to cross the Ohio River. This new road will displace people, bisect a farm that has been family-owned for four generations, and run half a mile from the 160-year-old farmhouse that I grew up in.
Much of the history of America can be written with the grease of machines that remove the few to accomplish the greater good. The approach of these machines to the land where I grew up – where friends and my parents still live – is the catalyst to create a historical, photographic record of the area.
For the past few years I have occasionally returned to photograph the people and the land from this pocket of rural Indiana before it becomes a highway notched by gas stations and Papa John’s franchises. From this I have a sold framework for the project.
Photographing people requires building relationships. Almost everyone in the area has known me all my life and knows I’m a photographer. Because of these long-established relationships, my perspective is not that of an outsider looking in, but as an insider looking deeper. Even so, participating in their lives can’t be done in an occasional three-day weekend. I don’t want to approach this with sentimentality or nostalgia, but with the same frankness and practicality they approach their daily lives. To do that means spending the time necessary to get into their lives.
HomeLands will be composed of two chapters. The first will be a portrait of the area and the people. The second will show the physical transformation of the land from soft hay fields to blacktop, from twisted branch to straight steel, from living community to functional backdrop. Both chapters will be complete bodies of work on their own, but they’ll also complement each other as a single project in the end
As stated, I have periodically returned to Indiana to work on HomeLands. So far I have funded this project out of my own pocket. With your support I will purchase the necessary photographic supplies (film, paper, darkroom rental, scanning) to continue working. I will also spend two months deeply entrenched so I can finish the first chapter. Beyond photographic supplies the money will be spent on plane tickets, my bills at home when I am away photographing, and possibly a new lens.
It’s my belief that land makes people who they are. The relationship you have with the land you’re on sets the cornerstone of your being. It doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment in a dense city or on hundreds of acres in the middle of nowhere. When that relationship is severed, identity is lost.
This project is my attempt to preserve that relationship for history and for my old neighbors.
- (45 days)