Dream Deferred: American Suburban Landscapes
My passion for the landscape informs my work as I photograph the human impact on the natural environment and explore its cultural implications in suburban settings. I grew up in the suburbs and left the suburbs as soon as I could. I never understood why I had such a strong urge to do so until, as an artist, I started photographing them.
I have been photographing the suburban landscape since 2008 when the Great Recession hit, coming back to some of the same buildings year after year, seeing no improvement. The recession is over now and the economy supposedly has recovered. But the deterioration has continued. So something else must be happening. Today it is apparent that online shopping, especially Amazon, has left America with far more storefronts than needed. Stand-alone stores are being shuttered, with no alternative use for most buildings. Malls and shopping centers go begging as traffic drops, tenants leave, lease rates collapse and the facilities end up wholly or nearly empty. Neighborhoods, and sometimes, entire towns, are impacted as these empty buildings reduce interest in housing and push down residential prices. We are starting to see this happen now.
The idea of the suburbs as a refuge from the problems of the inner city and the personification of the American Dream is changing. I see my work documenting the beginning of the end of an era and believe architecture can well serve as a bellwether of things to come.