RUST BELT BIENNIAL
AUGUST 27th - OCTOBER 5th
We are thrilled to introduce the first RUST BELT BIENNIAL, a celebration of photography with work realized throughout the Rust Belt Region in all its manifestations.
This land, its people, the pride and the struggles, the patina of the past and above all, the histories and memories ingrained in the soil across the region. It is time to make new memories and new histories, while revisiting and reevaluating old ones; It is time to start a new dialogue about the state of photography and it’s social, cultural and political effects in our society; it is time to give back to the photographic community but also the region; it is time for you to join us!
For our an inaugural Biennial we are grateful to have
Andrew L. Moore as competition juror.
We are honored to collaborate with the Sordoni Gallery at Wilkes University, in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., where the Biennial will be held from August 27th to October 5th of 2019. Additional information regarding dates of the main exhibition with lectures and presentations will be published in the Spring.
PARTNERS & SPONSORS
Lockport was once a vibrant town, brimming with various industries centered around a body of water known as Eighteen Mile Creek. Like many Western New York towns, Lockport was built by industry and decimated by decades of industrial pollution and environmental neglect. Today the creek is designated as a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency. To make these prints, I collected water from the creek to mix with my cyanotype chemistry, which was then applied to the paper surface to create the image. Aesthetically the prints are abstract and mysterious in appearance, representing a metaphor for the toxicity of the site. Since the works are created with materials from the site itself, they too are contaminated and unsafe to handle, creating a toxic poetry, a push and pull between beauty and horror.
This body of work is a visual reference on how technology has influenced anything but growth. We often tend to think that all technology advances us as a society, but often we instantly forget about what has gotten us to the point we are at, as a society and within our lives. In regards to technology, the idea that we are taking one step forward is often leading us to take one step back as a society. Whether that is by monitoring everything that happens in an environment or having the location become abandoned, we are losing our identity. Our society has become one where we are always building new infrastructure, buildings, technology, and advances while just allowing the used objects to be forgotten about or ignored. My images often have a subtle play on whether technology or other societal issues impact the environment one is viewing.
The Good Land responds to the architecture of Milwaukee, WI focusing on its downtown and vernacular architecture. Milwaukee has undergone a significant shift in its center and yet there are still parts of its outlying area that are in impoverished. Only recently has there been plans to revitalize its downtown areas which lay vacant at night and often only inhabited during work hours. The West sides of town offer magnificent buildings that have gone in disrepair. Buildings with historic architectural embellishments that lay in ruin. The juxtaposition of these two locations is meant to highlight its disparity while at the same time, celebrate its vernacular architecture that is the heartbeat of the city. The photographs are intended to pose questions about how we should use these spaces and also document the changing Milwaukee landscape.
"The Then, The Now, The Everything After" is a personal project and part of a series in a personal reflection of small-town America. This volume (1 of 3) is set in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the images work to develop cinematic narratives through the use of contemporary, iconographic symbolism. Being from a valley with a boundary of mountains that most don't have the opportunity to leave, the use of heavy highlights and shadows suggest a concept touching on the good and evil of a place like this. Where dreams are big, but corruption, in many views, can be even bigger. But ideals of faith, tradition and values seem to shine through the darkness.
The modern environmental movement in the United States began on June 22, 1969 after the Cuyahoga River caught fire as a result of industrial pollution. The next 50 years has not been easy for the people and waters of the Great Lakes. During this period, the region was hit with economic downturns and almost every water body in the region suffered from pollution from past and present industries. In spite of this difficult half-century, the people and landscape of the Great Lakes have proven to be resilient. Plans are in place for a new revival of the region based on new technologies and the strength of character of the people. These aerial photographs, landscapes and portraits highlight a complex but enduring culture and geography at the heart of American history.
Six months after the US presidential elections, I started a journey through one of Americas most historic regions, the once-booming Rust Belt, an area considered by many as a deciding factor in the rise of Donald Trump. The project documents the everyday life of people in the region: the ones feeling left behind; and the ones pushing hard for a change for the better.
This photograph is part of a collection of work titled West Grand. The series documents a neighborhood located in Northwest Grand Rapids, Michigan. The body of work is a survey of environments that are threatened by new construction and urban redevelopment. The photograph serves as an archive of place, preserving a familiar, yet vulnerable landscape.
In 1919, Sherwood Anderson published Winesburg, Ohio, a book of intertwined short stories about a fictional town where characters experience the collapse of social institutions that defined small-town America. Like the characters in Winesburg, the inhabitants of Fawcettown — a Rust Belt town of my own creation — search for collective experiences in this time of economic and social trauma. Masculine rituals and religious practices give a sense of identity but the question remains, how real is this manufactured social fabric? Can it overcome the overwhelming interiority and divisiveness that the modern world has created?
Photography for me has always been a process of discovery. A way of entering and engaging with the world, a visual dialectic between what is seen and what is just beyond. Out of the fog something new emerges.
Throughout childhood, until my early teens, my mother and I would spend summers in Johnstown, PA where our relatives lived. Some of my best memories were times spent in this city. During that period Johnstown was thriving mainly because of production in the steel mills and coal mines. There was a very low crime rate and local businesses were doing well. Decades later when America could no longer compete with foreign countries steelworkers were laid off, mills were closed as were coal mines and much of the population moved to other states to obtain employment. Although there is sadness, for me, in the deteriorating changes in Johnstown I also find beauty in this environment. It offsets the architectural sameness and predictability of much of the rest of America.
Raymond Thompson Jr
In the 1930s, migrant laborers came from all over the region to work on the construction of a 3-mile tunnel to divert the New River near Fayetteville, WV. Workers were exposed to pure silica, because of improper drilling techniques. This lead to the death of up to 800 workers. Nearly two thirds of the workers were African American. In part, this moment in history has been erased from the memory of West Virginia. The purpose of my project is to explore visual possibilities of what that time and place looked like using primary source materials such as: victims letters, tunnel construction photographs, news accounts and other written materials to investigate and recreate the workers’ experiences.
Tom Lamb is a landscape and ethnographic photographer. Through the art of storytelling Tom has dedicated his life to creating memorable photographs and championing environmental awareness. His images, both from the air and the ground, are often of areas in transition or abandoned landscapes. He uses images to examine how we interact with the planet's most valuable and increasingly threatened resources. Tom is interested in the abstract balance between the natural world and man's mark on the land. Lamb's introduction to the art movement, Abstract Expressionism, came while he was a graduate student at the Rhode Island School of Design in the late 1970s and assisting Aaron Siskind known for his own abstract photographic work. Tom's work is published, exhibited and collected internationally.
I’m in the Wrong Film a semi-real, semi-imagined chronicle of the struggles and psychology of the American small town. The title is a phrase used to indicate disorientation from surroundings that have taken on a disconcerting, fictitious quality. In these tableaus, the experience of individual dislocation the phrase describes is applied more broadly, articulating the collective sense of alienation that has permeated rural America. These anxieties are mimicked in the composition of the photographs themselves, which place a character searching for belonging in front of backdrops that have been artificially composited from an archive of photographs of midwestern towns. This everyman and the fragile, neglected simulations he inhabits explore both the desire and absurdity in attempting to recover a sense of belonging in a time of dislocation.
Exploring the Northeast Region of The United States of America, Accidental Memorials examines impoverished communities to foster a dialog about the current state of urban industrial centers and how these working-class neighborhoods have faced a decline in jobs, property values, and ultimately a troubling shift into poverty. The photographs focus on objects and scenes reminiscent of the past seen throughout neighborhoods, vacant lots and back streets where personal effects, furniture, and debris are often casually discarded. These unintentional memorials reflect the erosion of communities, speaking to social and economic impacts of deindustrialize areas along the 95 Corridor. Accidental Memorials is a testament to these struggling towns, their residents, and their past; Traces of what was and what remains, both physically and socially.
Picturing America is to unfurl a tapestry of exceptionalism -- not the “City upon the Hill” exceptionalism, but a genuine, vestigial kind. As highway began replacing railroad lines in the 1950s, a restructuring of physical and social space began. Suburbs rose and cities suffered. What persists is an illustrative tracery of people and places, rich in their ability to find meaning in transformation.
the fall(RED), part of a larger self-portrait photography series 'then he forgot my name' examining decay and mortality while reflecting the collective awakening of female power set in American Rust Belt darling, Youngstown, Ohio. Several years ago my father was diagnosed with dementia, prompting frequent visits to my hometown. Using a family owned historic building as backdrop, the building yearns to reveal its tales, providing a crucible for conjuring story. Creating characters through researching past tenants (thank you Mahoning Valley Historical Society), inspired by found objects on set as well as the universality of womanhood, replete with its trials, wounds, strengths, tolerances and impossible tasks. Despite it all—amid the ruin—the strength of the woman emerges.
Julie Hall sits in the bedroom of her mothers house in East Liverpool, Ohio. Julie's grandfather founded the Hall China Company in 1903. Hall China has sold world wide but in 2013 the company had to be sold because of cheaper ceramics from China flooding the market.
Alyssha Eve Csük
his image is part of a larger series of Industrial Landscapes all captured with Linhof 617 on fujichrome Velvia 100. Near mostly all things fall to ruin with some form of grace, these industrial landscapses capture the ruins in a light that calls attention to a view different from the repulsive brownfield. Micro to macro, extended views, scale, massiveness, geometry of the landscapes that almost take you from the presented reality of the image to the incipient mystery that ebbs right below the surface that is always lurking - dream-world breaks into reality, just trying to come through but can’t. Sense of strangeness pervades, a surreal-ness, that carries the suspended state, states of suspension in time. A time capsule, if you will. It is pure fascination and curiosity that keeps me pressing forward, half-muting the dark, eerie and unfamiliar vibrations that often permeate industrial ruins.
Summer in Lundsville revolves around a boy named Tommy. The viewer peers through Tommy's eyes as he rides his bike through town. Addressing the landscape and social structures of the Midwest, Tommy grapples with his place in a Pennsylvania steel town.
Support the Rust Belt Biennial by getting this awesome enamel pin. All proceeds go towards funding the event that celebrates photography from the rust belt region.
Hard Enamel Pin
1” x 1.337”
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