I grew up in a suburb outside of New York City. Vast housing tracts with no town centers, no aesthetically pleasing architecture; very little culture to speak of—all led to a monotony and deadening of spirit that I wanted to escape. Originally I photographed the suburban landscape as a way to understand my impulse to flee the tight constraints of small-town living. I have continued to photograph the suburbs and cities across America to explore the role architecture plays in conveying the spirit of a place and the health of a community.
Initially I photographed landscapes that use the traditional idea of perspective to depict the scope and impact of man’s effect on the environment. Over time I found that using the flat perspective of the close up tends to abstract the subject matter and allows me to play with many ideas at once: form, content, light and reflection. Early modernist painters and abstract photographers like Aaron Siskind, serve as inspiration. This approach gives me the opportunity to explore the cultural implications of the built environment in a fresh way and create a new image independent of the original subject.
In “Sunset on Eagle Street,” an ongoing project, I have been photographing one street in North Adams, a small post-industrial town in northwestern Massachusetts, since 2015. The downtown area has remained largely moribund since an electric company, the town’s largest employer, closed in 1985. Empty storefronts abound. Nothing seems to change much on Eagle Street. Coincidentally, it is also home to MASS MoCA, the renowned contemporary art museum. In spite of the infusion of 600 jobs into the local economy when the museum opened in 1999, the town has had a hard time recovering from any number of economic hits to its economy: the loss of its major employer, the recession of 2008 and Covid. Chronicling the changes over time in this one small town represents what is happening to many small towns across the country. In working on this subject matter I want to challenge the view we Americans have of ourselves as living in a country that is always progressing, ever expanding. The reality of these photographs tells a different story.