This Land… by Melissa K Stallard

Issue 73

The medium of photography is ubiquitous with time; a camera literally captures a measure of it, describing and preserving a precise moment that, almost immediately becomes a scene of the past. As a result, photography has the ability to shape our understanding of history, and in turn, can be used by society as an instrument to invent tradition and alter a culture’s perception of itself. The photographs in this series explore the intrinsic relationship between history, place, and identity.  

I believe that collective memory is the deliberate selection, organization, and careful reconstruction of facts to provide greater meaning. Photography’s subjectivity and association with truth makes it an ideal tool for mimicking this concept in order to provide a greater sense of understanding. I use the camera’s viewfinder as a means of selection and when combined with deliberate vantage point and carefully chosen details to create these photographs. My roll is to act as an investigator and visual storyteller. Instead of providing the viewer with answers, the photographs in this series will ask the audience to formulate their own conclusion by examining content in each image. The incidental details are as important as the overarching themes throughout the series. 

This series uses a combination of landscape photographs and portraits of people throughout the post-industrial Rust Belt region to serve as a vehicle through which the viewer can understand complex, multi-layered histories. Generally, one’s understanding of place and identity is rooted in familiarity or otherness. Just as the man-altered landscape reflects the attitudes and needs of its people, the subjects’ manner of dress and environments in which they are photographed mimic their sociopolitical and economic status. These photographs are not to be perceived as truth, but rather in its reliance on documentary-style, can be perceived as authentic. 

Melissa K Stallard lives and works in Akron, Ohio.
To view more of Melissa's work, please visit her website.

  Imprint, Wellsburg, West Virginia

Imprint, Wellsburg, West Virginia

  Untitled (Red/Blue Door)

Untitled (Red/Blue Door)

  The (mighty) Ohio

The (mighty) Ohio

  Coal Ash Pond, Chester, West Virginia

Coal Ash Pond, Chester, West Virginia

  Idled Steel Mill

Idled Steel Mill

 Silhouette

Silhouette

  Dancing Girls Nitely

Dancing Girls Nitely

  Pink Robe

Pink Robe

  Mingo Junction, Ohio

Mingo Junction, Ohio

  Calcutta, Ohio

Calcutta, Ohio

  Wood Structure

Wood Structure

  Betty

Betty

  East Liverpool, Ohio

East Liverpool, Ohio

  Alliance, Ohio

Alliance, Ohio

  Untitled (John 3:16)

Untitled (John 3:16)

  Blue Tarp

Blue Tarp

  Youngstown, Ohio

Youngstown, Ohio

  Trash New Tax

Trash New Tax

  Untitled (John McCain)

Untitled (John McCain)

  Steubenville, Ohio

Steubenville, Ohio