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 closeup 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.
“Dream Deferred: North Adams” is a project I have been working on since 2015. North Adams is a small post-industrial town in Massachusetts. 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 downtown area has remained largely moribund since an electric company, the largest employer, closed in 1985. Empty storefronts abound.