"Detroit" is an exploration of blue collar America in the wake of globalization. The economic prosperity that came with domestic automotive manufacturing drew many hard-working Americans to Detroit and other industrial cities over the last century. As free trade facilitated the mass-outsourcing of labour, many of America's domestic manufacturing jobs evaporated. The impact this had upon working-class Americans was and continues to be devastating.
My work in Detroit is a document of the industrial American culture that is quickly beginning to vanish. As old factories lay empty and silent, awaiting their inevitable demolition, fewer and fewer goods are manufactured locally. Free trade has not only taken jobs from the community, but it has also taken the pride away from the workers who remain. From the cars on the street to the clothes on a person's back, goods are now made elsewhere by people that we have never met. America no longer has a use for places like the Detroit, and like so many surplus labourers, the city itself has been abandoned like a broken down, old car.
FORT CHIPEWYAN (images 4-6)
Fort Chipewyan is a northern Canadian First Nations community of some 1200 residents. For thousands of years, the Chipewyan and Mikisew Cree bands in the region have relied upon their traditional ecological and cultural knowledge to live off of the surrounding environment. Historically, the health of the people has relied upon the health of the land - a delicate relationship that is now being destroyed by industrial developments in the area. Fort Chipewyan is situated on top of the world's second largest oil deposits and the tiny community now finds itself dangerously close to one of the largest and most ecologically destructive industrial projects in the world – the Canadian Oil Sands.
For over a decade, fatal cancers and other unexplainable illnesses have swept across the community, and still the cries of the people and medical practitioners of Fort Chipewyan continue to fall upon deaf ears. Tumor-laden fish now being found in Lake Athabasca and the results of independent environmental assessments have begun to confirm what the people of Fort Chipewyan have feared all along – their community is being poisoned by the Oil Sands.
Fort Chipewyan's local economy of commercial fishing and fur trading has been decimated by the environmental impacts of industry. As a result, the majority of the residents of Fort Chipewyan have been left with no other option but to work in the Oil Sands to support their families. A cloud of grief hangs heavy over Fort Chipewyan as the people, land and culture are all beginning to waste away – a process that is being referred to by some members of the community as cultural genocide.
My curious and socially conscious nature has driven me to travel around North America, exploring the fringes of Western Society. A combination of art and journalism, my work focuses on the systemic power struggles of abandoned people and the environments in which they live.
I believe that as photographers, we all must be deeply sensitive people. An empathetic and compassionate disposition not only allows us to form real connections with our subjects, but it also can become a theme in our work. I feel that the emotional presence of the photographer within the photograph has the potential to channel a stronger connection between the viewer and the subject.
Click on any of the thumbnail images to launch the viewer. You can then navigate forward and backward within the portfolio by clicking the left or right side of the enlarged image. Click the add to collection checkbox to automatically add an image to your collection. Image tags or search engine keywords appear below the collections' checkbox and each word or phrase is a link to potentially more image matches.