These days I’m thinking a lot about what kind of photography and art I like. I’ve been focused on photography that explores the relationship between humans and animals/nature for a long time – when I visit a new city, I find I’d rather visit a natural history museum or roadside attractions than galleries or an art museum. However, there are still times when I see art on a different topic that speaks to me and I have to find out more. This was my experience seeing Dave Jordano’s work A Detroit Nocturne on Lenscratch earlier this year. I was led to his website, and I was so impressed by the expanse of work there. One body of work that stood out to me was Prairieland, made up of five groups of images that all explore the connection between the midwestern landscape and the people who live there. I couldn’t choose photographs from just one; I love On the Fringes and Interiors so much.

From the artist’s statement: Illinois, while considered of the “Prairie State,” is actually consumed by over 22,000,000 acres of commercialized farmland, or, 80% of its total landmass, making it a land of contradictions. Although deeply rooted in the farming vernacular, its social fabric is made up [of] hundreds of small towns, or more accurately, small communities, populated by people who have created a cultural backdrop of expressive identity and individualism that is unique to American ruralism. As someone who has lived an urban existence all my life, the idea of someone living in the country was as much a mystery as a curiosity.

These photographs explore the connection between the landscape and the people who live within the confines of small town farming areas. My motivation lies more in the way the landscape depicts elements of cultural identity and expression that have been laid upon it by individuals through conscious or unconscious efforts. In this way, I am able to clarify my own personal interpretations through free association and emotional response to the land, that otherwise might be constrained by overly analyzed concepts and theory.

No matter how much of what we perceive the idyllic mid-western rural landscape to be, whether as beautiful rolling hills of natural grassland or endless fields of planted corn, beyond that, there remains a much deeper, more sweetly melancholic tone that pervades the landscape. Artifacts of what we have built, used, and left behind are scattered throughout the remotely and less traveled by-ways of this distinctly American place, leaving behind clues to who we are. These fragments of cultural identity often lie somewhere between perception and reality and are the pictures that have surfaced in my understanding of this place.

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Found via: Lenscratch