The Front Room Presents: Sean Hemmerle "Rust Belt"
February 15-March 10, 2013
Opening Reception Friday, February, 15th 7-9pm
Fri-Sun 1-6 & by appointment
In Sean Hemmerle's poignant photographs of theaters, banks, factories, and abandoned houses in the "Rust Belt" the architecture is metaphoric of societal issues that have evolved over decades. Hemmerle's stunning photos create a visual language in textures of flaking paint, broken windows and decayed reflections in pools of frozen industrial interiors- that instills in us a feeling of loneliness and longing for these neighborhoods that have been all but forgotten.
The Industrial Center of the United States once stretched from Chicago to New York City. Linked first by waterways, then rail, and finally by road, built by the likes of Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Ford, affluence blossomed in cities like Gary, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Albany with the advent of steel, rail, oil and associated industries. Manufacturing in the United States continued to outpace the rest of the world for almost 100 years, eliciting phrases like "American Exceptionalism" to mark this period of unprecedented growth and prosperity.
When manufacturing slipped away from these cities the area began to die the death of 1000 cuts, and in 1976 Walter Mondale renamed the acres of darkened factories and streets stretching from Chicago to New York as "The Rust Belt". As the automobile industry declined, acres of downtown Detroit reverted to prairie. As steel production shifted to Asia, workers abandoned Braddock, and Gary. Citizens of Troy, New York know of the final resting place of Uncle Sam in the local cemetery and the shuttered houses that border it.
Sean Hemmerle's photographs explore the architectural icons of American independence as they become repurposed into a new post-manufacturing era. Hemmerle's haunting images of these once bustling towns and city-centers explore the transformation into decay, as proud structures are reclaimed back into the land. Once glorious architectural elements have been absorbed into a contemporary post modernism, and long-standing hold-outs struggle to preserve at least an aesthetic of community.
This is Sean's fourth solo show at the Front Room Gallery. His work has recently been shown at Paris Photo and in Bonn at Feroz Gallery. He will be presenting His Rust Belt work at the New York Public Library in May. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The International Center of Photography, and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.