(formerly This is Boy)
When my son was three and a half, my family was living in the Cayman Islands. Because of rising costs, an uptick in crime and the fact that we had no family nearby, my husband and I decided to pick up and move back to southern Illinois among sprawling corn and bean fields and near my family. I was back to where I started, and only a quarter mile down the road from where I grew up and where my parents still live on the family farm. Immediately upon our arrival, I began photographing this series of images of my son living the ‘Midwest Dream’ and I continue to photograph for this project today.
In the beginning, I was simply documenting my child’s life like any other mother would. It was a big, new, and exciting change for him. After a year of photographing his everyday life I realized I had the beginnings of an ongoing project. In making these images, it’s my intention to not only document my son’s childhood, but to highlight a lifestyle that seems to be fading away all too quickly. Only fifteen percent of children in the United States now live in rural areas, and my son is one of these declining numbers. Not only that, but even rural children are staying indoors much more than children did in the past. Having wide-open spaces to explore, living close to nature and being afforded a modicum of independence as a young child was the norm for me growing up, so not only am I photographing my son’s present, I am photographing my past. As a child I played on the same land, swam in the same river, and walked the same dirt roads as he does now.
This collection of images, and future images I make for this project, will take on new meaning as time progresses and the statistics of rural populations versus urban populations changes even more drastically. It is my hope to create an intimate and captivating record of rural life in Illinois as it is now, and hopefully encourage parents and their children to get out and connect with nature and the great outdoors no matter where they live.
These photographs are captured digitally and select images are available as limited edition prints, produced on Epson Hot Press Natural paper.