Chartres Cathedral, 2012
Digital C-Print, 40" x 50"
In "Unfortunately, It Was Paradise" (2012–2013), I explore historical utopian communities established by secular and religious movements before the fin de siècle throughout the Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions. Using large-format photography and key tropes of formal photographic language, I create imagery that examines inactive utopian communities, models of didactic lifestyles enacting ideal existences. I am drawn to the ways that ideological and spiritual beliefs shape the architecture, geography, and landscape through either original or commemorative elements in these now-extinct spaces. My aim is to capture the aesthetics of a community, etched into the natural and artificial aspects of a particular space for the purpose of defining a specific vision of austerity and godliness. The photographs in "Unfortunately, It Was Paradise" speak to dualities of perfection and incompletion that past inhabitants superimposed on the environment, paving the way for future populations, and my interest in capturing a society’s essence after dissolution.