Out of Brooklyn: encountering the Other in Rural America
enhanced photography by
CHRISTINE STODDARD | Editor + Visual Artist
Ivy and Steam
I created “Ivy and Steam” while visiting Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 2015. I was in town for Feminist Zine Fest Pittsburgh, but arrived well before my host was ready for me. So, I decided to drive to Braddock, an industrial suburb not far from where I was staying. I had read about the steel mill there and the public health threat it posed and just wanted to see how the townspeople lived. I spent hours just wandering the streets and taking photos. When I finally came upon the mill, I froze. It looked every bit as menacing as I had imagined. This mill provided a livelihood for many people, though not nearly as many as it once had. Yet it killed so many, too. It’s not healthy to spend your life working in a mill and it’s not healthy to live by one, either.
I created “Field Ride” in my home state of Virginia. I took the cornfield photo on my way to a clowning gig in the small, rural town of Kilmarnock. I was living in Richmond at the time, so the drive was about an hour and a half. At some point, I pulled over to take pictures of the corn. When I arrived to the birthday party location, I was surprised to find myself in a trailer park. I tried not to make assumptions or cast judgment. Still, I was heartbroken when I saw the birthday boy’s mother collect cash from all of the adult guests in order to pay me. She did it discreetly, so that none of the children noticed. I hope that little boy one day appreciates all the things I’m sure his mom has done to give him a comfortable life. That’s all I could think about during my long ride home.