“…the stories of the Rust Belt continue to be of singular importance to the greater trajectory of America today.”
It was my great pleasure to be the juror for the first Rust Belt Biennial of 2019. The work submitted presented a wide cross-section of artistic backgrounds, geographical locations, and philosophical approaches to the challenges and beauty of this region. Although winnowing down these submissions to a group of finalists was a challenging task, I ultimately chose the finalists for the emotional richness and aesthetic integrity of their portfolios. I should also mention that there were many other bodies of work, deeply felt and highly charged, which I look forward to seeing in the exhibition to be held at Sordoni Art Gallery.
My heartfelt thanks go out to all those who took the time to contribute their work and look forward to meeting all those who attend the show on September 7th. Lastly, as I reviewed the many submissions, I was once again reaffirmed in my belief that the stories of the Rust Belt continue to be of singular importance to the greater trajectory of America today. My sincere thanks go out to the organizers of this important project and I wish them much continued success in the coming years for this bold endeavor.
— Andrew Moore
Matthew Abbott (Australia, 1984) is a documentary photographer specialising in humanistic stories and widely recognised for covering social and political issues that define contemporary Australia and the Asia Pacific region. Abbott is a member of the Oculi collective, Australia’s leading cooperative of photographic artists and a regular contributor to The New York Times. He has worked for clients including Der Spiegel, Newsweek, the Washington Post, The Guardian and Geo Magazine. Abbott is the current Oceania representative for the 6x6 World Press Photo Global Talent Program.
Six months after the US presidential elections, I started a journey through one of Americas most historic regions, the once-booming Rust Belt, that’s being considered 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.
Allison Nichols is a visual artist based in New York. She has studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY Purchase, and earned her MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Eighteen Mile Creek is a body of work consisting of cyanotype chemigrams that explores the space of a Superfund site located in Lockport, New York. The works are created solely through the interactions between photographic chemistry, contaminated water collected from Eighteen Mile Creek, and light. The cyanotypes are bound in contradictions, engaged in a push and pull with the viewer. Ranging in tone from deep blue to harsh yellow, they make visual gestures towards landscapes and topography, but also towards toxicity and warning. While the prints themselves are abstract and non-representational, the work itself is inseparable from the Eighteen Mile Creek Superfund site, as they are made with water and earth from that location. A physical link from the creek down to the molecular level is created.
Mike Majewski is a photographer and educator based in Northeast Ohio. He creates work encompassing the narrative of place and social structure. Working on dissecting the archetypes and narrative of the post-industrial mid-west. With a combination of written word, sequencing, and photographic objects, his work analyzes the constructs of a region and the social fabric that holds it all together.
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.