The Driftless might be described as the ultimate ‘forgotten’ place. It was formed as a result of being overlooked – bypassed by glaciers of the last ice age. The unique topography, some of it very difficult to traverse, creates a distinctive place with its own particular – some call it cosmic – identity which spans four states, transcending human boundaries. My investigations in the Driftless range in the rural areas of Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa.
"My mission as an imagemaker is to better understand and engage the world around me. I photograph to understand, looking deeply to better see. My images are a means to share this deeper vision, asking questions to better know a culture and a way of life; a springboard for conversations, and a bridge between urban and rural life."
View From My Family Home
Just a generation ago, over half of all Americans lived on farms. Today, fewer than 2 percent do. These images are taken from the inside looking out the windows of 3 generations of my family. They record a way of life; landscapes that members of one American family have both inherited and created. The pictures tell a story of migration from country to city, the loss of the family farm, and a transformation of this country’s culture from rural to urban. They speak to limitations placed on us by geography and culture, and how some accept those limitations while others struggle against them. The transmutation of “home” touches each of us in a deeply personal way. It’s an experience broadly shared in American culture and throughout the world.
“The home is a private place, situated in the public arena. These images encourage us to consider both the interior and exterior landscape.”
Class Pictures | Photographs from Two American High Schools
These photographs of two public high schools address the way in which our society’s values are reflected in the spaces we create, and in the marks and changes created by use. Schurz Public High School, on Chicago’s north side, was designed at a time when public education was seen as a noble endeavor and a source of strength for the nation. Over the years, use and changing priorities left their mark on this National Historic Landmark. Marathon High School, in rural Wisconsin, is a very different physical structure. Resembling a laboratory, and completed in the early 1960s, the physical space seemed immune to change. These photographs point to the values that led us to create these spaces, while raising questions about how our ideals of education and social relationships have changed.
“The complexities of these places with their layers of historical and social significance resist easy interpretation.”
Chicago Design Competition for Mixed Income Housing
These photographs record the activities and the selected-site context of this architectural design competition, sponsored by the Chicago Housing Authority and the National Endowment for the Arts. A jury selected an architect to design one city block of housing in the ABLA neighborhood on Chicago’s near west side. Once completed, the development will encompass a mix of public housing, affordable housing and market-rate housing. Occupants will come from diverse income groups, and all housing will be physically indistinguishable across income lines. The visionary ideals embodied in the competition created a fascinating atmosphere for investigating and documenting an important historical moment. A book about the competition is slated for publication in 2002.
“These pictures are witness to the end of an era, and the possibilities indicated by a new one.”
Faultlines | Managua Diptych
Faultlines explores the physical and symbolic space of two cathedrals in Managua, Nicaragua, as seen through the eyes of the photographer, who traveled and worked in Nicaragua from 1984-1990, during the Sandinista Revolution. The cathedrals are situated historically on either end of the Revolution, and physically along the same earthquake fault zone. The earthquake, which destroyed the first cathedral, also opened spaces in the country’s social fabric and led to the Revolution. Construction of the new cathedral, (1992-1995), was financed by a US citizen who also helped fund the “Contra” rebels, a US-trained army which fought against the Revolution. In the context of history, the new cathedral symbolizes a repudiation of the Revolution’s goals and the intent to reassert old social structures.
“I explore the place of individual experience within a broad social, political and historical sweep.”
Pilgrimage to Lake Michigan
In “Abecedarium" each image is a talisman of place and time and life, a record of gratitude sought and found – insisted upon – during a time of particular chaos and difficulty in my personal life. Striving to offset the crush of miasma that threatened to engulf me, I devised a system for daily recording of, and meditation on, gratitude. Based in the concept of a child’s ABC Book, I made a photograph each day in contemplation of a specific quality of grace I assigned to each month of the calendar year. While the system itself became markedly complex, the day-to-day observation of gratefulness in all its myriad forms had its desired effect.
“Guided by these moments of grace and beauty, mundane and sublime, I found the strength to persevere.”
Friends In Deed | Wisconsin Nicaragua Sister States
“Friends in Deed” tells the story of the US–Nicaragua sister-cities movement, which grew dramatically during the 1980s. These images document the exchanges and interactions of citizens from my home state of Wisconsin and the country of Nicaragua. The two have shared an historic and active link as official sister states since the 1960s. The photographs, results of frequent trips between Wisconsin and Nicaragua, record the many layers of interaction between the United States and Nicaragua, focusing especially on relationships between ordinary citizens and the tone of daily life in Nicaragua during this period in history. These photographs have been published and exhibited widely, and were used to illustrate the Nicaragua section of Rand McNally’s A to Z World Atlas, first published in 1997.
“I was inspired by the personal experiences of everyday US and Nicaraguan citizens working to create a better world.”
Chicago Architecture Biennial
CITY 2000 | Chicago in the Year 2000
These photographs were made for City 2000, a privately funded effort to create a documentary archive of Chicago at the transition between the 20th and 21st Centuries. Three series created for the archive explore a sense of place and particularity. Oak Park Avenue, records views of homes along Oak park Avenue in the northwest corner of the city, a post-World War II Chicago neighborhood with a curiously non-urban quality. Views From Home, looks out the windows of homes in various parts of the city. These images show some of the diversity of places Chicagoans look on from home. Nancy’s Bath is a record of an especially luxurious home bath in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Selections from these projects were shown at Chicago’s City Gallery throughout 2000. The archive is permanently housed at the University of Chicago.
“I wanted to record a sense of these places – to honor their presence at this particular moment in history.”