There are nearly one hundred towns in Ohio which bear the names of foreign places. Each name reflects the dreams and aspirations of the founders of that small community in an unfamiliar environment that they were making their home. These names reflect the ambitions of people who were dissatisfied enough with their past to change it, yet optimistic and hopeful enough to make plans for their future. Still, each town’s resemblance to its namesake may be difficult to discern because today’s reality does not conform to yesterday’s dreams and expectations.
In 1985 I was moving from Colorado to New York City to begin a new chapter in my life. I was unable to live in my new place in NYC but wanted the time being creative and preparing for my new career as a freelance photographer. Having been born and raised in Cincinnati I was familiar with Ohio. I spent 2 weeks traveling around the state creating images for my corporate annnual report portfolio and also visiting towns with foreign names, photographing myself with the town signs. The self portraits were made into an artist book with hand printed Cibachrome prints and also a print on demand book.
When the Ohio country was settled at the end of the Revolutionary War, the immigrants and the frontiersmen who colonized the wilderness were people with grand ideas and aspirations, an indomitable spirit and a desire to make a better future and a willingness to overcome challenging, awesome odds. These adventurous spirits were dreaming of better lives possible now that the Union was free.
Today these towns with foreign names form a microcosm of modern life in America and the world: a portrait of human ambitions and aspirations tempered by the realities of today’s world. These are people living in a middle ground between where they find themselves and those dwellings of dreams. Each of these places in Ohio and the world has something significant to commend it: some meaningful phenomenon which makes it important. That event, that person or place may at first seem to be only a minor footnote to a trivial event in the grand scale of the world. But in reality it looms large in the lives of the vital people of the world in Ohio and symbolically in the world beyond.
“The stories that we tell… about [Ohio]… are stories that could be told about almost any settlement in the Northwest Territory. They are stories of hardships overcome by courage and resourcefulness – of grief, deprivation, hard work, and suffering, but somehow, even more, about the indomitable spirit, the willingness to move ahead, the reason for living that our ancestors had, and that we all seek.” From Stories That We Tell Our Children About Iberia [Ohio].
Billiad is the sequel to Oddyssey
For exhibition, acquisition, or publishing information please contact the artist.
Original photographs are 35mm color negatives and all images have been scanned at high resolution and available as enlarged limited edition digital prints.