American Idyll is a look at rural America through the nostalgic lens of an imagined pastorale history. I began this series after my husband and I drove through the Hudson River Valley on our way from Burlington, Vermont, to New York City. The landscape was so stunningly beautiful, lush and green, with sweeping vistas and beautiful little red farm houses, that I wanted to pull over the the side of the road every three feet. We were under time constraints, but resolved to return to the region so I could explore.
To me, rural New England and New York State towns feel like stepping back in time, to a world more innocent and quaint than the modern industrial complex. The nature seems unspoiled and full of possibility. It is an impression which belies the a more complicated relationship to the ideal, both past and present. In the Hudson River Valley, miles of corn are not for human consumption, but to feed chickens in a massive industrial chicken farm. A new coat of paint masks poverty and disrepair. It is a nostalgia for escape into a world that never existed.
This nostalgia takes on a particular urgency in the present moment. The photographs here were taken in 2017, as various groups of the American public grappled with feelings about the current presidency. Near an historic and picturesque dam and a quietly flowing river, sits a house with a makeshift piece of fence in the front yard which reads "Lock her up". A truck with a confederate flag in the window drives by. I can't help but understand, in the face of this beauty and in the remaining traces of history, the desperate hope that turning back the clock is possible.