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Pictures Of Hardship: A Photo Essay Of Americans In Debt

Birrany M. Powell - photograph Birrany M. Powell - photograph Birrany M. Powell - photograph Birrany M. Powell - photograph

Photographer Brittany M. Powell has an ambitious project worthy of your support. She has embarked on a project of taking portraits of people that have incurred debt. Having already taken at least 15 photographs of different individuals, she has a Kickstarter project to help realize her goal of 99 different portraits. After losing her own job in 2008 and facing severe financial hardship, Powell decided to find others in a similar situation, to tell their stories  and to dispel the social stigma surrounding bankruptcy, debt and talking about money issues in general. She says this about her project:

This [project] spurred my interest in investigating the role debt can play in our identity and how we relate to the world. Debt is publicly enforced and highly stigmatized, but is almost always privately experienced. It is in many ways an abstract form without material weight or structure, yet with heavy physicality and burden in a person’s everyday life. (Source)

Her subjects include James Riggs Davidson III who is an electrical contractor with a total debt of $52,335.63, Grace Ragland a family support worker with $75,000 in debt after her ex-husband was incarcerated and she became the sole carer of her family. She ended up working 2-3 jobs 7 days a week for 7 years. The range of people Powell profiles is so varied she really shows how common this problem is today.

My goal is to bring people together to recontextualize an abstract, often shamed experience. It is my hope that by having a platform to discuss this issue, it will encourage the viewer and participants to question and reframe our perception of debt and how we contribute to it’s power and role in our social structure. (Source)

To support her project visit her Kickstarter page here.

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Logan Fleming

Bruce Springsteen, 5'10"

Bruce Springsteen, 5'10"

I recently came upon this online listing for an auction of wax figures which took place at the Hollywood Wax Museum on May 15. Most of the sculptures were apparently made by a man named Logan Fleming (who there is very little information about online). Now I must admit I’ve never been to a wax museum, but I was stunned at how downright awful some of these are. Figures have poor wardrobe selection, weird unnatural skin tones, oddly disproportional body parts, and/or just don’t really look anything like who they’re supposed to. The result is often hilarious, and if it were Mr. Fleming’s intention to make these look so strange (which I’m fairly sure it wasn’t), I could easily see them being presented as works of art. Some of my favorites are after the jump, but please look at the link…there are many more than I could ever put on this blog.

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Michael Pietrocarlo Captures The Beauty And Renewing Power Of Abandoned Buildings

Distressed Gothic

Distressed Gothic

Crossbeams

Crossbeams

Lost Files

Lost Files

Show's Over

Show’s Over

Michael Pietrocarlo is a photographer whose solemn photos of abandoned buildings capture the beauty of ruin and the renewing power of decay. Three series are featured here: Rust Belt, Forlorn Faith, and Unmanned Posts. Rust Belt explores the communities of Buffalo, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, which struggled during the economic turbulence of the 1980s; Forlorn Faith shows us vast spaces of spiritual worship left in decline; and Unmanned Posts guides us through the dust and stillness of the Bethlemhem Steel Admin Building, which closed in 1982. In his images, Pietrocarlo both shocks and stirs the imagination by revealing what happens when places once invested with love, energy, and hope are neglected; windows break, ceilings crack, paints peels. They become breathless ghost spaces, engraved with memory and mystery, breaking down and moldering in silence.

As these photos show us, however, there is beauty in deterioration; skeletons of industry and worship become tangible links to the past, signifiers of a passion and a hope that has preceded us. Decay becomes the passage to renewal, both personal and shared. As Pietrocarlo explains further:

I am drawn to the mystery of spaces where longevity has defied significance: forlorn constructs ravaged by nature, time, and the boundaries of ruin. I discover and appropriate these “found places” in my photographs to expose the brutal beauty of their (inevitable) decay, exploring contrasting themes of transience/permanence, deterioration/renewal, and abandonment/reclamation.

[…] Above all, these acts of discovery and documentation help me confront my own struggles with mortality in an attempt to illustrate artistry in dereliction, hope in obsolescence, intimacy in emptiness. (Source)

Visit Pietrocarlo’s website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to follow his work.

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Valerie Hegarty And Three Other Artists Who Have Mastered The Art Of Illusion

Valerie Hegarty

Valerie Hegarty

Fanette Guilloud

Fanette Guilloud

Kyung Woo Han

Kyung Woo Han

Thomas Quinn

Thomas Quinn

Valerie Hegarty’s Alternative Histories was installed at the Brooklyn Museum in one of their Period Rooms.  Hegarty’s site-specific installations toy with a viewer’s perception—they create the illusion that the process of destruction or decay has been accelerated and what we see are the remains of the real artwork.

Thomas Quinn is a Chicago designer who experiments with something called “anamorphic typography.”  When viewed from a certain angle the text looks just right, but when one moves around the text morphs and warps.

Fanette Guiloud is also interested in anamorphic projection and used the method to create a series of photos titled Géométrie de l’impossible (Impossible Geometry).  Only 22-years old, the illusion is impressively successful.  Influenced by artists such as Felice Varini, Guilloud is certainly an artist to keep our eye on.

Creating installations that defy logic and inspire wonder South Korean artist Kyung Woo Han says of the work, “All the facts are relevant. People see what they want to see. One fact can be interpreted in several ways depend on our perceptions. In the opposite, two different facts can be looked the same. My work deals with perception and illusions. Everything we see or what we know is not absolute. I suggest various ways to perceive things with slightly different perspectives.

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Erotic & Surreal Desert Photography (NSFW)

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The photography of Amanda Charchian is like a vaguely familiar dream.  Her series featured here make a strange sort of sense in much the way a dreams do.  Titled When There is Nothing Left to Burn, You Have to Set Yourself on Fire, Charchian makes use of an all female cast of subjects, primary coloring, peculiar lighting, and hazily 1970’s fashion photography aesthetic for an understated surreal atmosphere.  However, she especially makes skillful use of the scenery blending all of the components into one sun-induced hallucination.  Interestingly, she says of her process:

“I really enjoy what I do, so I am constantly working. I am very fast paced and I like working in a trance state, so it doesn’t suit me to adhere to a particular plan.  The process always starts with that sort of light bulb flash (usually when I am doing something really mundane), and then I refine the concept. With that concept lurking, the physical making of the work always becomes very intuitive.” (via)

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Alexis Anne Mackenzie’s Fragile Hand-Cut Forms

We have featured the work of San Francisco based Alexis Anne Mackenzie in the past (here). She continues to master the art of hand-cut collage with her pieces that spell out various words entirely with found imagery. In recent works she has disregarded letters in favor of abstract compositions on found paper. New forms are constructed from tenuous slivers of paper layered over book pages of flowers and various plants. The result is a meticulously crafted body of work that addresses natural beauty and fragility.

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Andrew Newson

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The first descriptors that come to mind when viewing the photography of Andrew Newson are: still, quiet, repose. This UK based photographer holds still moments of peace to take in his rich and varied imagery; whether it be the hidden treasures of Sussex or the splashes of red from seaside to city.

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