Past-Present Triptych – Artist Statement

The photographic series, Past-Present Triptych – Rope, Soil and Axe reflects on my personal family history and comments on past ideals of labor in our country. My family has been farmers for generations. I spent time working in the country in my youth, but it was expected that I would attend college and work in a more lucrative career as an adult. I have a romanticized version of my life had I chosen to work in the fields. These photographs reveal that desire in me to connect with the objects that tie me to my ancestors. The images represent my mind’s eye, intangible feelings rooted in a true past and fictional present.

As our country has shifted to a more technological, global economy, middle class labor jobs have become almost nonexistent. Recently, there is a desire by some to return to an earlier time when people labored in mills, factories, mines or on farms. But just as my vision of my life as a farmer is romanticized, so is the view of that past in American history. There was a reason my grandparents and parents wanted me to attend college, life was hard. And although more jobs may have been accessible to non-college educated men, these jobs were not always available to people of color or women. It may have been a period of growth and innovation, but it was also a period of oppression and sadness. There is a darkness to my images, and although I still see the value in a hard day’s work and appreciate the laborious past of my family, times were not always good.