I am interested in pulling slivers of the past into the present in order to examine how their function and cultural significance has changed over time. This past year, I have been photographing the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio with a 4x5 camera. I returned to the river on the fiftieth anniversary of when it infamously caught on fire, forever changing the country’s perspective on the city where I grew up. Few know that this watershed event was a call to action that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and The Clean Water Act of 1972. I have been exploring a number of contradictions in this process: the revitalization of the Cuyahoga River while the current federal government attempts to dismantle environmental protections; the city’s capacity to clean up the rivers while the population declines at record rates; and the inner city’s decay while private developers cherry pick the river’s edge for the wealthy. In order to capture the relationship between past and present, human and environment, natural and unnatural, private and public, I have been photographing historic bridges that engage with the landscape and the greater Cleveland human networks. The photographs embed the bridges, which are monuments to Cleveland’s industrial past, within the context of the changing environmental, economic, and political landscape of Cleveland, the Midwest, and the country.
This work has been supported by the Cleveland Foundation Creative Fusion Artists residency and the Cleveland Print Room. Prints will be exhibited at the Riverview Welcome Center in Cleveland June 18 - July 20.