Gallery Exhibition: David H. Wells
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September 2 – November 14, 2014
Ice House Gallery
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 25, from 4:30 – 7:00 p.m.
An exhibit about the empty homes and foreclosed dreams littering the American landscape in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.
Owning a home was once the American dream. At the peak of the foreclosure crisis, one in five American homeowners was either behind on their mortgage payments or in the process of foreclosure. Their empty homes and foreclosed dreams are powerful symbols of lives shattered and families devastated.
After a house is foreclosed upon there is a fleeting moment when the ghosts of the one-time owners are all that is left – before the houses are cleaned and returned to the real estate market. The remaining signs of life photographed during this period of time echo the voices and footsteps that once filled these emptied houses.
I focused on empty homes, as they are immovable objects and stand in stark contrast to the highly mobile American dream. I chose not to focus on individual families in foreclosure because I wanted to explore the issue from a broader perspective. The final work is made more powerful by its lack of literalism and its attention to chillingly mundane objects. An open-ended canvas, viewers can project their own ideas into the photographs - about home, America and family, into the empty spaces of the houses.
I started the project in April of 2009, with the goal of understanding the upheaval we are living through. I initially photographed in the Central Valley of California, an epicenter of the foreclosure crisis. Then, I worked in Rhode Island, which has a foreclosure rate very similar to California’s. To date, I have photographed in eighteen states.
My audience is America itself, including those who worry about the possible foreclosure of their own dreams, those who have already experienced that trauma and anyone concerned or interested in what’s happening to the American dream.
Rotary Ice House Gallery,
Art and Design,