When I first arrived in America, my initial reaction was that it looked a lot like The Simpsons, at the age of 6 having grown up in Spain, it was the only point of reference I had. The houses looked nearly identical to those in the show – the blocky shapes, A-framed garages attached to the side of houses and white picket fences. Even the kwik-e-mart could be found in alternate forms throughout my town and I recognized the big yellow school buses immediately.
I struggled with living in Ohio as a teenager, I felt restless and thought I should be in a place that was conventionally beautiful and alive, not somewhere that seemed dull and eventless at most times. But, through photography and my own personal revelations, I have slowly learned that each state in America has its own charm, even Ohio. As my perception evolved, I discovered the beauty in Ohio and suddenly it became easier to live here, in a way it became my muse.
In the summer of 2011, I had the opportunity to travel the country on tour with two bands Frozy and MoreEats, which took me to places I had never been to, or may never have chosen to go. This is when I fell in love with America, and saw for the first time how beautiful it is (in all aspects of the word). There are good people wherever you go; in much the same way that there is beauty to be found everywhere you go if you look hard enough.
The epic scale of America is spoken about negatively at times, but I think its size makes for great diversity. Each state is so different, not forgetting the disparity between the East and West coasts. For a photographer, there is something to be offered by each place, from anywhere you go, and something to be said about the freedom of such diversity in this country. While this may come across as a simplistic outlook it is this separation yet inherent overlap of the scenic land with the broken, damaged and repressed that interests me from both a political and visual perspective.
And thus the photographs featured here – taken over the past year and a half – are subjective and represent the sensibility that I like about the American Midwest. is includes the humble details that are almost commonplace: people’s peculiar love of their trucks, the trucking community (that spans the nation); vast, expansive spaces that are at all around; patriotic decorations; the Harley Davidson lifestyle; the peace and beauty in places where you might least expect it.
Behind these scenes runs the diametric opposite to all their ingenuous naivety – the troubled underbelly which co-exists in these apparently idyllic places, especially the small towns. It is the dream of the damned that has captured the imagination of American visionaries from David Lynch to John Updike, and photographers like Duane Michals and Helen Levitt.
For decades, artists, musicians and laypeople have left small towns behind in search of excitement and a need to connect with likeminded people, but as I get ready to move to New York City in a few weeks, I am already becoming nostalgic for the Midwest. I know that I have to go, but that I will miss the quiet isolation, the vast landscape, country roads, corn fields lit by golden light, the warm hearts of these small town folks, the diners, the “honey”s and “y’all”s. I know that New York won’t offer the same Midwestern comfort that Ohio has shown me, but an opportunity to discover, reaccept, and fall in love with this country all over again.