The Emptiness Left by a Denial of the Use for Which It Was Intended

by Colin Blakely

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Artist Statement

 

"Live quietly in this midwestern city of ghosts and mutterers." —Charles Baxter

Somewhere in Middle America, in the most basic sense, is a project about the 400 and 500 blocks of Keech Avenue, an examination of my immediate surroundings. Bordered on one side by Michigan Stadium and by Almendinger Park on the other, both entities play an important role in the identity of the neighborhood. Annually, we welcome thousands of visitors arriving from all over the country to go the stadium and participate in the American ritual of Big-10 College Football. People also come from all around town to visit the park and participate in activities there. Visitors to both places inevitably end up passing through Keech Avenue. My photographs depict this street and the people that inhabit it—both the ones that live here and the ones that visit. Some I know quite well, others are complete strangers. Overall, the work tells the story of a community that is holding on to a vanishing way of life. It is about a group of people living quite literally in Middle America—geographically, economically, politically—at a time when our notions concerning what this means are quickly changing. Having shunned the constant call of the suburbs, we live in a small neighborhood close to downtown. Here, the passing of time is defined as much by the rituals we collectively participate in as by the months on a calendar. This work is a celebration of, and possibly a eulogy to, our way of life.

 

Colin Blakely

 

Born in New York City, Colin Blakely lived in Brooklyn for eight years before he moved to Houston, Texas, and lived there through high school. He received his BA from Williams College with a double major in studio arts and abstract math. After two years as a middle school math, science and photography teacher in Houston, he returned to school at the University of New Mexico, where he received his MFA in photography in 2001. He is currently Professor of Photography and Head of the Art Department at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. His work has been shown at Fotofest Houston 2002 and 2004, the Society for Contemporary Photography, the Pingyao International Photography Festival, the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Photographic Center Northwest and Jen Bekman Gallery. Colin was a runner-up for the 2009 Aperture Portfolio Prize and a Winter 2007 Hot Shot. Colin currently resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his wife and three children. Always inspired by sense of place, he has found a perfect subject in the small neighborhood where he lives.

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