Forgotten America is an ongoing photographic series in partnership with the non-profit Heartland Alliance exploring several of the most ignored issues in our country; poverty, homelessness, and economic struggle in the heart of a city filled with wealth and prosperity. Homelessness is one of the most documented social issues in America, but with rising numbers of people on the streets and living in low-income housing, I started to ask myself how this issue could be approached in a different manner. What does it mean to be forgotten in a nation with global influence, founded on the freedom and liberty for all?
Fully aware that I could be viewed as an outsider by the community I am working in, I tend to view the insider outsider role in a more fluid manner, situating myself in a grey area that is moveable. I am merely a fellow human being making photographs in Chicago to draw connections, witness and tell the stories of others. When I moved to Chicago from rural Illinois, I became very sensitive to the struggles that those living in urban poverty face. Iwant others to engage in this problem with me, to start a dialogue and to see the restoration that is already happening among us. As Susan Meiselas states in her book In History, “For it to be known. For it to be seen. For it to be felt. Maybe to compel people to act. But it begins with witnessing, the least that one can do.” My goal is to have each voice heard by telling the individual stories within the community, sharing the deep connection I feel to them as fellow human beings.
For the next part of the ongoing series, I photographed in a housing unit in Humboldt Park. Los Vecinos is a subsidized housing unit that allows the residents of the area to create a space they call home and create a community within the Chicago neighborhood which might not be possible otherwise. Humboldt Park is a neighborhood filled with rich cultural history that has gone through many changes, including gentrification, in the past several years. The project includes portraits, landscapes and still lives to weave together a narrative that examines the individual stories of each participant and explores the history of the neighborhood to ask larger social issues.
Making it on Broken Pieces
This series is a group of portraits of the elderly community at the Hollywood House in Roger’s Park. The Hollywood House is a subsidized housing unit which allows Seniors to create a space they call home, which might not be a reality for them otherwise. This series fosters and documents this idea by showing the Seniors in their individual intimate spaces. The portraits are accompanied by two photographs of their material objects which further amplifies the description of the person. The photographs are printed large to highlight the descriptive quality of the space and person. The elderly are an isolated population that often get overlooked and pushed to the margins of American society. These portraits are a way to preserve and document their individual voices and highlight their value in our society.