IOWA PHOTOGRAPHS is an ongoing series that began in the summer of 2012. Photographs from this series will be published in book form by The University of Iowa Press in 2019.
After living in Chicago, IL for more than two decades, my wife and I relocated to the comparatively small town of Iowa City, IA. It was a strange and wonderful feeling to know absolutely nothing about the towns and landscape that surrounded our new home. I immediately started taking day trips in every direction, which was easy to do, as Iowa City has old highways that intersect like a twisted bicycle wheel, with Iowa City at the hub. A small town is never more than ten miles from the last one, with a grain silo and other provisions for the agricultural needs of family farms, some of which remain, while others have been replaced by large scale farming.
The landscape is dominated by corn and soybean fields. Traveling large distances, by car and by bicycle is an experience of minimalism: slow, repetitive, meditative, calming.
The towns are the heart and soul of this series. Rather than an experience of new discovery town to town, it’s an experience of rediscovering the same palette of materials over and over again. These towns formed, thrived, peaked and decayed in the same time cycle, offering a consistent texture of line, form, color and cultural signifiers.
The towns are quiet.
There are people with work to be done, most of which notice me but consider my photography to be none of their business. I never pro-actively engage with people, but am always excited to be approached, which usually leads to great conversations and a nice portrait, as seen occasionally on the pages of this publication.
Are these towns in decline, or is this a time of transition to a new way of small town life? My hope and prediction is for the latter.