The camera constantly takes me into the presence of people and places that make me think to myself, “This is exactly where I want to be and exactly what I want to be doing.” I would have no idea how to get there otherwise. The camera leads me on my life path; my projects are what I do along the way. I’m inspired by Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, by the people who documented the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl and helped our country remember, reflect and heal. I'm trying to do the same. As they did, I serve as witness.
Stockton, California's bankruptcy trial is winding to a close, the judge has agreed to allow the city to exit bankruptcy. Since hearing 60 Minutes dub Stockton the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis in 2008, this city has been my subject. Foreclosure, USA, the first chapter in my ongoing work around shifting economics, was made in Stockton in 2009. In 2012 I returned to Stockton as the city teetered on the precipice of bankruptcy. Bank Rupture weaves together portraits and artifacts, found objects and photographs, created and collected around Stockton during the city's 2012-2014 bankruptcy. Foreclosure, USA and Bank Rupture document the physical manifestation of the financial crisis: the loss of homes, businesses, and a foreseeable future. Stockton represents the struggles our country has endured during the most severe economic collapse of our lifetime. It has become the largest city in US history to declare bankruptcy-leading the way for Detroit. The work reflects a landscape absorbing the impact of unsustainable development, and the real cost to communities absorbed in a questionable American Dream.
By endeavoring to visualize the economy and the American Dream, I realize I’m trying to capture an image of something intangible. During a 2012 interview about Bank Rupture, Claire O'Neill of NPR asked, “How do you photograph a city’s bankruptcy?” My reply was, “You can’t.” But I can immerse myself in a place and connect with its people. I can weave a body of work that evokes and reflects a time and a place. I can make work that bears witness.