The series, American Girl is one part exploratory documentary photography, one part autobiography and one part metaphoric symbolism reflecting the ritual, metaphor and ineffable existential question of the human condition in the modern landscape.
Like many people, my start in this life was not easy, which may be a blessing because it gives me a lot of material to work with as an artist.
It is not without irony that I now use my camera to look back at childhood, exploring the worlds of these American daughters. I am also looking forward at the future generations of American women. I click the shutter in hope of stopping the hands of time; to capture that everyday microsecond which speaks of transcendence, beauty, imperfection, survival and existential mystery and female iconography. Using the camera to gather the ashes before they burn, to remember before we forget.
This series examines the diverse and unexpectedly complex culture of Midwestern girls. Tossing regional clichés aside I explore the surprising and quickly shifting demographic, often exploring life in the margins. Themes of identity, integration, equality, spirituality and religion are woven into the work. I've spent thousands of hours walking streets and locations documenting women from all walks of life seeking to create a metaphorical representation of the greater human condition, much of it is focused on those who have the least voice. There are several themes woven into this series, one of which is documenting the integration of one of the largest immigrations in 21st century history, that of Somali and Ethiopian Muslims to Minnesota. As wars and violence rage around the globe, the fact that Eastern and Western cultures are peacefully melding right here in the heartland, in due in great measure to the newly free and empowered women sets an example of peaceful integration in democracy. My experience with gender specific spiritual abuse give me a keen eye and empathy for women coming from a conservative gender segregated religious tradition.
Another thread in the tapestry of this series is poverty homelessness andchemical dependency and poverty. I am drawn to explore the worlds of girls whose socio-economic class leaves them in the margins as I have been. These girls who often have to deal with issues of exploitation, substance abuse and dependence.
The third main theme in this series is transcendence. Ritual and imagination are ancient tools humanity has always used to celebrate and process existential question as well as allegories of experience. I explore the modern way American girls find to express these themes integrating American pop culture (such as Wonder Woman), ethnic ritual many immigrants integrate into their new home in America (such as Hmong dancers). I love to explore our homemade American iconography such as the cowgirl and small town beauty queen. Imagination fuels the human spirit to transcend everything from monotony to unspeakable events of war and death.
I hold my camera as a mirror for us, for we orphan daughters, the transcendent, the survivors, we who fall and get back up. I am old fashioned photographer, paying my entry fee in shoe leather, immersed and baptized in the sidewalk grit, the aisles of the discounts stores, the streets where I fought for my life. I make these pictures to mark these shifting days, as East and West meet and meld together in central standard time zone. All the tribe’s daughters blending voices in the subzero light of daylight savings. On lying low, and flying high, of faith and frailty. My work is a celebration of survival and connection to being in this world.