As I was working in my studio yesterday I heard a radio story on the changes to America caused by the building of the Interstate highway system. In some places, new commercial centers were created. And in some places, towns were left behind.
I looked at a number of those towns in South Carolina and Georgia last week. Intentionally avoiding the interstate on our ride home to Florida, we drove through town after town. Each had a small central business district of brick buildings. Large glass windows faced what was once the main street. Most of these towns looked like they were barely holding on.
As we drove through the towns to the rural area before arriving at the next name on the map, we passed an occasional small home near the road. I stopped to photograph interesting abandoned homes. Others looked abandoned, but a second look made me stop. “Somebody lives here.”
Where do those people work?
What are their daily lives like?
Did they once go into the small town nearby for shopping and civic life?
What are their memories? What are their dreams?
I have held onto the images of these small towns, and I am grateful for my photos to remind me of the feel of them. As an artist I believe it’s important to spend time looking. I hope to be able to see beyond the obvious. It’s important to hold on to the images and turn them over a number of times to discover all that’s there.
Today I was back in the studio working on some new pieces. As I create work that digs into memories and stories, I want to remember the places I’ve seen and revisit the questions I asked. Some of the photos will, I hope, become incorporated into future artwork. I will feel a sense of obligation to the images, to use them to cause viewers to question and wonder.
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A year ago, on a similar drive home through rural South Carolina, I discovered this intriguing building. Somebody once lived there. I was captivated by the vines and trees growing up through the inside.
I created “Something Else will Grow There” based on those photos.
“Something Else Will Grow There” is on my website, HERE.
Thank you for reading. I always enjoy questions and comments.
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