Sunday, August 21, 2011

Down and Out: America

A year ago I began this blog. I had hoped to explore intersections between art and learning.  I could not know then that I would come to love composing a blog, nor did I anticipate that I actually might have more than a handful of readers, let alone a readership.  A year later, nearly 16,500 people have visited this blog from 117 countries. I am of course grateful for those who have stopped by and even more so for their comments, links, and references. The learning has been rich, varied, and inspiring.

I gave much thought as to what I wanted to post on this anniversary of sorts. For the last few year I have been making images of people who are down and out in America.  I had hoped that a slide show might help to place those who are largely forgotten in daily lives and certainly forsaken by our politicians (sold out again in debt ceiling deal) more squarely in our view.

The last few years have been particularly harsh for the poor. In the new forward to Nickle and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich writes about the toll the last few years have taken on the working poor.
Media attention has focused, understandably enough, on the “nouveau poor” -- formerly middle and even upper-middle class people who lost their jobs, their homes, and/or their investments in the financial crisis of 2008 and the economic downturn that followed it, but the brunt of the recession has been borne by the blue-collar working class, which had already been sliding downwards since de-industrialization began in the 1980s.
In 2008 and 2009, for example, blue-collar unemployment was increasing three times as fast as white-collar unemployment, and African American and Latino workers were three times as likely to be unemployed as white workers. Low-wage blue-collar workers, like the people I worked with in this book, were especially hard hit for the simple reason that they had so few assets and savings to fall back on as jobs disappeared.
The poor are hardly part of a national discourse.  They seem not to be visible.  I hope the images I composed during the last few years help to recenter them in our consciousness, make it impossible for any of us to simply walk on by.

The images were made in:

Banner, CA
Winterhaven, CA
Deerfield Beach, FL
Pompano Beach, FL
Osseo, MI
Camden, NJ
Hoboken, NJ
Long Branch, NJ
Morristown NJ
Newark, NJ
Paterson, NJ
Wanaque, NJ
West Milford, NJ
Manhattan (NYC)
Warwick, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Winner, SD
San Antonio, TX


  1. Thank you for lending a voice to the voiceless.

    - Ian

  2. Unfortunately, there are so many who are down that it is difficult to not make images. Appreciate your comment.

  3. Great images. Plus, who isn't inspired by Simple Minds?

  4. Thank you!

    Dorothy Menosky


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