Chester, PA is located along the Delaware River and has a rich history dating back to the mid-1600s. In the 1960’s the city experienced an industrial collapse and subsequent economic meltdown. Many residing in Chester (pop 37,000) now live in an environment of hardship. A food desert spans the length of the city. The city's public schools rank last among the state's districts. The murder rate is one of the highest per capita in the United States. The chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Pennsylvania is 1 in 273; in Chester it’s 1 in 37.
I began this project in summer 2008. I quickly learned Chester to be a place where a domino effect of socio-economic issues and a long history of government corruption, have revealed the community to be a microcosm of the wounds of racism that stain this country today. As my vision of the community grew, so did the parameters of my project.
With this work, I want people to understand the true complexities of living in a community like Chester. How everything is interlocked: a patchwork of trauma and courage. A woven legacy deeply rooted in the foundation of American society. In an endeavor to capture this, I chose to experiment with multiple exposures. The past, present and future are intertwined, creating each moment. Time is sandwiched together, stacked on top, brick by brick, moment by moment. The heavier these moments become, the greater the strain on this linkage of time. People living in Chester know this strain, as they endure a tremendous amount of weight to survive.
I've witnessed tragedy here, but I have seen equal moments of strength and beauty. The moments of light and progress are not forgotten under the overwhelming weight of violence and oppression. In fact they weigh heavier on the pendulum of life and death. The scales will tip ultimately in favor of dawn. It’s only a matter of focusing our attention towards the morning sun.