Tag Archives: Mother Jones

Andrew Spear

With gun control a heated topic in the upcoming election and horrific events in Colorado recently, the idea that someone would want to own a machine gun still is beyond my comprehension. Photographer, Andrew Spear is exploring that phenomenon in his on-going project, Knob Creek.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Andrew works a freelance photographer, in addition to creating documentary and fine art work. Often choosing to pursue personal projects near home, much of his work reflects his surroundings as he attempts to understand both the communities he lives in and the relationships he builds with others.  His work has been exhibited at the Houston Center for Photography in Houston, Texas, the Annenberg Space for Photography in New York City, and was presented at LOOKBetween in Charlottesville, VA. His clients include Esquire, TIME, Mother Jones, The Washington Post Magazine, Le Monde’s M Magazine, The New York Times, Smithsonian, US News and World Report and The Wall Street Journal amongst many others.

Knob Creek: Twice a year, thousands of gun enthusiasts descend upon the former Naval munitions testing ground outside of West Point, Kentucky to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights at the largest machine gun shoot in America. Used in the early 20th century, the property tested many of the large scale weapons used in World War I and II before being sold in 1963. Now, the Knob Creek Range is one of the last places in the country where privately-owned class III automatic weapons can legally be fired. This is an ongoing body of work.

Greg Ruffing

OK, I admit it.  Exploring Greg Ruffing’s project on Yard Sales had me drooling over certain objects featured at some on the sales, and my first thought was: Where are these sales, and how fast can I get there?  I mean, who doesn’t want a set of owl lamps with crushed velvet shades?  My reaction is exactly what Greg is thinking about when he creates his work–our culture of consumption and the desire to have what we don’t need.

Greg Ruffing is a Chicago-based artist working in photography and mixed
media and often explores themes of consumption and the economy. His
works have been exhibited at the Annenberg Space for Photography
in Los Angeles, the New York Photo Festival, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the
Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado, and elsewhere. In addition, his photographs
have appeared in publications such as TIME
Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Mother
Jones
, Smithsonian, The Atlantic Monthly, and others. Greg also runs an online
photography project titled Self-Guided Tour, a series of writings
about photography, art, and contemporary issues.

Greg has created a book on his Yard Sale work that has been included in the DIY: Photographers & Books exhibition that is currently on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art until the end of 2012. The book is a precursor to a larger publication he hopes to publish in 2013.

My series Yard Sales is focused on the
complexities of consumption: the ubiquity and disposability of consumer goods
and their ever-shifting value and meaning. In a way, these photographs are an
attempt to document the cycle of our pursuits in accumulating “stuff” (and our
relationship to that “stuff”), in a way that reveals fundamental human habits
and behaviors and their link to socioeconomic circumstance.

I was first drawn to yard sales as a sort of grassroots marketplace defined by the seller’s curious efforts of display and advertising to attract shoppers, and the buyer’s hunt for prized items and bargain prices. I was also interested in how the yard sale, as an event, transforms the private domestic space of the seller’s residence into a public commercial space to facilitate purchasing goods.

I’m also intrigued by how yard sales illustrate a specific dyadic complex of consumerism: on the one hand, they speak to our somewhat insatiable compulsion to shop and hoard possessions, and perhaps a certain cognitive blurring of the distinction between needs and wants (related to the process by which consumers assess and impose value and meaning onto material items).

And yet, on the other hand, it seems that yard sales (and other forms of resale) serve as a crucial antidote to much of the disposability and wastefulness inherent in consumerism – sending unwanted objects into secondary cycles of consumption where they may find renewed value or purpose through subsequent buyers.

Furthermore, I’ve undertaken this project in the context of the American economic Recession that began in 2008. In those past four years photographing this project, I’ve met and talked to countless families who, in the aftermath of financial hardship nationwide, have sold off possessions just to help pay their bills. In addition, while photographing yard sales in southwest Florida (which has continually had some of the highest home foreclosure rates in the U.S.), I met people who were selling goods obtained from an underground network of scavengers who take discarded possessions from the littered front yards of foreclosed and evicted homes.

It would seem that the Recession has brought decades of unbridled consumer spending (especially its emphasis as an economic engine) into question. Some navel-gazers have even wondered if we actually shopped ourselves into the Recession by living beyond our means through cheap credit, and many have spoken of pursuing a more austere lifestyle. Its in this framework that I hope my Yard Sales project can contribute to a sincere dialogue on and modest reformulation of our relationship to the items we choose to buy.

Julia Gillard, Man with Shrubbery

Julia Gillard, Man with Shrubbery

Julia Gillard

Man with Shrubbery,
Miami, Florida, 2011
From the Greetings from Florida series
Website – JuliaGillard.com

Julia Gillard was born in Illinois. She is a graduate of the International Center of Photography’s Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Program. Her work has been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, The New York Historical Society, powerHouse, Capricious Space, Galleri Lundh Åstrand (Stockholm), and has appeared in New York Magazine, Mother Jones, The Fader and the New York Times. Her new series, Greetings From Florida is being exhibited through July 30th at This Must Be The Place in Brooklyn, New York. 

Sarah Wilson

Tonight I will be attending my high school reunion. It’s reluctantly that I go back in time, but I look forward to spending time with friends on the dance floor and I will surely enjoy one cocktail too many. Having this opportunity to think about a time in life when we stood on the threshold of possibility, I was reminded of Sarah Wilson’s poignant and wonderful series about blind teenagers at prom. This series has been well exposed, but it’s always a pleasure to revisit this work and share in the excitement and joy that her subjects are experiencing.

Sarah has returned to her hometown of Austin, Texas after spending almost a decade in New York city studying and working. She works as an editorial photographer for magazines such as The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Time, The Atlantic Monthly, Marie Claire, Texas Monthly, Mother Jones, and others. Her work his held in numerous museums and she has exhibited all over the globe.

In my recent series, BLIND PROM, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the lives of a group of teenagers attending the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. I began photographing at the school in 2005 while working as as a stills photographer on the PBS-funded documentary, “The Eyes of Me”. Since then I have volunteered as the prom night photographer for the school each spring. I am to capture the entire prom ritual, starting with hair and makeup in the dorms, until the last dance at midnight.

Prom is an important rite of passage for the American teenager, and it is just as significant for these students. Not only do these images memorialize this special event for the attendees and their parents, but it is my intention that will will ultimately serve a larger audience as a medium for consideration of what life might be like as a blind teenager.