Railroad, Flag and Ball… (Fall River Photo Journal excerpt #1)

Date:  January 4, 2011

Location:  Lower Kennedy Park

Subject:  Railroad, Flag and Ball…

(This is an excerpt from the January 4th, 2011 entry of the Fall River Photo Journal. It has been edited from its original text.)

            …the tennis courts lay dilapidated and in disrepair.  There are many cracks in the pavement with life in the form of crab grass and weeds growing from them, leaving the courts virtually unusable for any activity of any kind.  These courts use to hold many mad street hockey games back in the 1980’s and 90’s as I had participated in a few of them with great joy.  Now, a dead sport in the city when back then you would see pick up games everywhere, every fall, winter and early spring.  I then took some shots and went across Bay Street to the softball field, another area in disrepair with badly bent chain link fences and a broken scoreboard.  I began shooting when I remembered of the old railroad tracks behind the field in a thicket of woods buried and neglected.

            I proceeded in and found what was left of an old relic of a bygone era: two rail lines rusted with many ties missing or rotted away with a lone spike standing straight up and half way out of is home and the environment around it enveloping it so with trash of various forms (tires, paper debris, old appliances) strewn about.  While capturing images of the railroad at various angles, I stumbled upon another photo op: a torn piece of an American flag that you would buy at some parade, feast or fair, making its way into the ground and surrounding fauna.

            I snapped a couple of shots of it and started to discover that there was another project inadvertently developing from this one: the American flag as seen in the city.  With several shots of different flags in different stages in different areas of the city from previous shoots, it seemed a series on that particular subject was forming.  The project was taking a life if its own…

            While leaving the thickets, I noticed a lime green softball plugged into the frozen ground, undoubtedly hit by a player some time ago for a homerun.  I felt a feeling of empathy to the ball (I’ve had this affliction of feeling empathy to inanimate objects for quite some time) and picked it up and heaved it back onto the field in hopes it will be used for its purpose once again…

A New Year, A New Change, A New Project

   

The practice of dharma art is a way to use our lives to communicate without confusion the primordial and magical nature of what we see, hear, and touch. – Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

  Hello once again!  It has been nearly a year since my last post and I apologize for the absence as much change in my personal life had been going on (and still continues) since then.  I had decided to finally work up the courage to change careers as my passion for photography is too strong to just go on as a part-time profession whenever my “day job” has time to allow for it, and left that “day job” and returned to school to pursue my BFA in photography and also minoring in English (Writing, Communications and Rhetoric…with a possibility of going for another major) at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth.  So with school and my love for photography propelling me forward, I’m putting my shoulder to the wheel, and out of this rejuvenation came about a project I have pondered and procrastinated about for the last couple of years that is finally underway.

    The project in question is a concept to capture through images and text the “essence” of Fall River.  Being born and raised in this city and spending all my life here but three years travelling and living all over the country, I’ve seen the city leaders past and present, both in government and community, “sugar-coat” the problems the city has endured for decades and not properly addressing them with the right vision and course of action.  Part of the problem I see is that they and others do not see the city in its proper context.  There has been much ballyhoo over new buildings, ideas, rhetoric and so on, but not much action nor insight in addressing the city’s issues.   Many people paint the city as a “proud” city on its history and diverse culture, which is all true, but those concepts alone will not help the city out of its rut without support, vision and action of its leaders and citizens.  I believe the city’s leaders have a “blind eye” on the city they govern and influence.  They do not see the ugly side of the city and over the years how the lack of education, good paying jobs, new prospering businesses and no answer to the departure of the textile industry that was the city’s lifeline and built it to an economic powerhouse at the turn of the 20th century has the city on a downward spiral in every aspect that constitutes a healthy, thriving city. 

    In order for the city to move on and gain the goals its citizens and leaders seek,  I believe one needs to see and acknowledge the ugly side of the city, many of which goes by unnoticed to its people as we have become desensitized by it over decades.  This is why I have begun a year-long photo essay of not just photographing the city and its people in its most natural state, but also documenting the project through a written journal describing my process as I shoot and also writing about my experiences and views on the project, city, its citizens as the project progresses and changes.  I will begin posting images and excerpts from my journal here for all to share my experience and views.

    While there is no preconceived idea on what or how the images will turn out to be, as I believe any project that any artist is involved in breathes a life of its own and will guide the artist along with a symbiance one needs to succeed in telling their story/concept/idea to the world, the photos will be limited in editing in post-production to be viewed as they were when photographed, dharma art.  The works of Lewis Hine, Walker Evans, Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson serve as an inspiration and example for this project, along with the writings of James Agee, Joseph Mitchell and Jack Kerouac.   While the images to come will show the ugly, dark side that has become of Fall River hiding of a city that once it was, there is also beauty through the ugliness to be seen.  “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”, as the adage goes, and there is beauty and hope in Fall River.  One just has to go about looking and seeing to understand and I hope this project will do just that.