Suburban Portfolios

When I was twelve my family sought the American Dream of a better and safer life in the suburbs.  From my family’s point of view, suburbia represented opportunity and prosperity, though the city we were moving from was clean, moderately sized and safe. Still, we left a large home with a large yard on a fairly quiet street, for a slightly larger home with a slightly larger yard on a slightly quieter street.  I couldn’t have been happier.

Touring the developments enthralled me, the newer the better. There was unblemished concrete, flawless paint and fresh laid sod juxtaposed to mounds of dirt and stacks of spray-painted plywood in preparation for the four bedroom, three car attached sprouting up next door. 

From the beginning of my artistic career I have been interested in photographing the landscape at night.  I use night imagery to make the familiar view unfamiliar and bring into question how we use the space we live in and the impact this use has on us.  At first I sought subjects foreign to me, but as my work matured I returned to the landscapes I know most intimately —suburbia.

Initially I was drawn by the allure of the American Dream. I developed an interest in these new and managed spaces that reflected an American ideal not only for my family, and myself but also for countless others.  I am fascinated by it’s power and sought to reveal clues as to why people accept, and even long for, entering into the unspoken pact that creates the isolating yet homogenous condition of suburban life.

As my focus sharpened, I saw suburbia not in its details but in its simplicity, not the objects, not the homes or the people in them so much as the space around them.  I realized the spaces represented the emptiness and isolation I had come to know in suburbia. For me suburbia became not only about the promise but the price.

© 2019 by Jen Moon

 Rochester, New York - jenmoonphoto@gmail.com