The work I make establishes, exposes, & traverses boundaries, which are often overlooked. I am constantly seeking out found situations that possess an inherent psychological complexity. By working in this way I am able to release total control & navigate the world in an intuitive manner. I enjoy the aesthetics of found situations, not controlled environments. My work relies on the viewer to project their multimodal experiences onto a scene or portrait. My scenes are intentionally depopulated so that absence may become the subject matter. My portraits are open ended conversations between the viewer & the sitter.
Inspired by documentary photographers, this work stems from a deep interest in the ability of photography to reflect the complex subjectivities that makes both participant and viewer complicit in what happens in our world. I see this work as connected to the continuum of documentary photographers not only through my pictorial approach and aesthetic impulses, but also in my recognition that I am not separate from the world I see and represent. My position as a photographer interacting with the world is not new, rather I use existing practices and add layers of complexity to documentary representation. Working within traditional modes of image making, I have set out to explore the concept of eminent domain and its implemented realities.
The series Eminent Domain is about the Wendell-Phillips neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri, located at 27th Street and Prospect Avenue. In 2011, the city began to search for suitable locations to house the new East Patrol Police Department and Crime Lab. The city sought to consolidate 2 existing facilities, which were ill-equipped to handle caseloads and demand for the area’s police force. Twenty-five potential sites were considered before settling on a 4-block portion of Wendell-Phillips. Within the neighborhood there were 43 occupied homes of which 75% were owner-occupied. Of the twenty-five sites considered, Wendell-Phillips had the highest rate of occupancy.
The city began buying out homeowners under the guise and threat of eminent domain. The majority of residents, unable to fight for their property and unaware of legal protections, accepted the city’s initial offer. For residents who rejected these offers, the city arranged to have their homes condemned.
This project began with the knowledge that there would one day be a void: occupied homes would become empty, demolished, then the remnants hauled away. I began this series with portraits of the neighbors and residents of Wendell-Phillips. After everyone moved away the neighborhood was vacant, and my pictures became records of demolition and removal. Taken as a whole, the photographs from this series capture the physical manifestations of eminent domain. They are evidence of a forced relocation. When these photographs are printed and hung on the wall they confront our level of engagement with the realities of eminent domain. Through this work I am exploring an accepted power construct, which allows one entity to forcefully, yet legally, relocate another against their will.