I use my camera to open a dialog between myself and my subjects in order to form relationships with and to learn more about the people I meet. My usual topics revolve around central themes of social discord, cultural exploration, and personal experiences. In this project, I approached my subjects in much the same way. However, unlike my usual subjects, this time I formed a relationship with a colony of feral cats in my own backyard.
For years I noticed these cats had become a recurring subject in my other bodies of work. In early 2014 I signed up for Instagram and began sharing images of the cats with friends. What began as a few images turned into a steady stream of photographs that focused on how individual cats interacted and how the colony struggled to survive illness, weather and life with each other. These images revealed the personalities expressed by each individual and how they function together as a colony. The work also became a way to promote Trap Neuter Release (TNR) programs such as the one that helped us provide medical aid and birth control for the entire colony, free of charge.
Algoma is a city of about 3,000 people on Wisconsin’s shore of Lake Michigan. The area was first inhabited and named by Algonquin speaking people. The city is located on a natural harbor about 25 miles east of the city of Green Bay. Historically, Algoma played a key role in the origin of the Christmas Tree tradition now observed in the United States. In Fred Neuschel’s book about the early Christmas tree shipping industry, Lives and Legends of the Christmas Tree Ships, the description of Algoma is that of a town that relied heavily on the resources and transportation routes Lake Michigan provided. The lake continues to be an essential asset to the city as it draws people from as far away as South Dakota to fish her cool waters for many varieties of salmon and trout. This is in part due to Algoma being home to one of the largest sport fishing fleets on all of the Great Lakes. Besides sport fishing, Algoma is also a hub for vernacular art from the region, and home to Wisconsin’s oldest continuously running winery.
Artist book, Blurb, 2011 – Currently out of print
Seeds of Hope began in 2010 as a joint project of the Green Bay Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, United Way, and several other organizations.
Seeds of Hope has two iterations, in the first was started in 2010 when people who were homeless and live in poverty in the great Green Bay, Wisconsin area were given cameras to photograph their perspective on poverty. The show opened near the end of 2010 at the Neville Public Museum and has since become a traveling exhibition. I came on-board during the second iteration of the project in 2012. In this version the photographers were area youth ranging in age from about 8 years of age to 18. They were selected to share their perspectives – either because they come from impoverished families or are close to those who are. My role was to act as an adviser to the youth, to photograph their portraits and record some of their personal stories.
Seeds of Hope
Voice of The People is a look at more than a decade of protests, marches and actions in the U.S. from 2009-current.
I was raised by a predominantly Republican and Catholic family. Growing up, the children in my family were often not allowed to be present during political conversations or news broadcasts. We never discussed or were told about the historic protests, rallies, and marches that helped shaped our home country, the United States. In short, we were not permitted to be informed until we were of voting age at which point we stumbled out into the world largely uneducated about our government or the state of the world at that time. What little I had learned from my primary education did not prepare me for many of the bigger questions I had. During the first decade of my adulthood I searched for understanding. I briefly joined my university’s student senate and took small parts in various campaigns that then President George W. Bush and his family held in my home state of Wisconsin. In 2009, with a camera in hand, I attended my first political protest in a small town—it was the first national protest of the Tea Party Movement.
I left just as shocked and confused by what I had witnessed as they were confused about their message. I realized theirs’ was not a way of thinking or set of beliefs that sat well with me. It’s almost unfathomable this movement continues to persist and is responsible for setting the stage for the Alt-Right nationalist movement that rose up around 2016. Several TEA Party elected politicians have created legislation that significantly cut funding to public safety net programs designed to protect the public from economic and medical disasters, unemployment, food insecurity, and lack of shelter. Backed by nationalist organizations and groups subscribed to the idea of white supremacy, these cuts appear to be aimed at further oppressing minorities and have ultimately hurt many of the very people who back the party.
Over the years that followed this first encounter I discovered a different perspective to view the world from and made efforts to be present at many of the political engagements that occurred. My intent has been to photograph and witness these conversations to enshrine them as time has a way of silencing these voices and pausing these movements. The causes and desires of each march, rally or protest are that of basic needs, animal and human rights, planetary needs on a planetary scale.
In this body of work I am taking a look back at over a decade of photographing political marches and rallies across the U.S. I’m thinking about where we were, where we’ve gone and what steps will come next. I have come to the conclusion that the truth is out there if you know to look for it.
PROTESTS AND ACTIONS IN THIS WORK INCLUDE
Wisconsin Workers Rights Protests 2011 | Occupy Chicago 2011 | Standing Rock 2016 | Women’s March on Washington Washington D.C. 2017 | Women’s March Chicago, IL 2018 | Women’s March Madison, WI 2019 | March to Protect Healthcare 2017 | March for our Lives Green Bay, WI 2018 | Climate Strike Madison, WI 2019