Somewhere in Middle America

I live quietly in this midwestern city of ghosts and mutterers.
Charles Baxter

“Do you know who moved in to Tony and Lisa’s house?”
“I met them last week. He’s an economics professor at the U.”
“Damn. It always seems like a loss to the neighborhood when another professor moves in.”
I start to remind him that I myself am a professor, and for that matter so was Tony, so really, it’s a net gain of zero. However, I quickly think better of it.

In the most basic sense, this project is about the 400 and 500 blocks of Keech Avenue, an examination of my immediate surroundings. Bordered on one side by Michigan Stadium and by Almendinger Park on the other, both entities play an important role in the identity of the neighborhood. We have literally thousands of visitors to our street every year. People come from all over the country to visit the stadium and participate in the American ritual of Big-10 College Football. People come from all around town to visit the park and participate in activities there. Visitors to both places inevitably end up passing through Keech Avenue.

My photographs depict this street and the people that inhabit it- both the ones that live here and the ones that visit. Some I know quite well, others are complete strangers. Overall, the work tells the story of a community that is holding on to a vanishing way of life. It is about a group of people living quite literally in Middle America- geographically, economically, politically- at a time when our notions concerning what this means are quickly changing. Having shunned the constant call of the “suburbs,” we live in a small neighborhood close to downtown. Here, the passing of time is defined as much by the rituals we collectively participate in as by the months on a calendar. This work is a celebration of and possibly a eulogy to our way of life.

 

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