A collection of printed film photographs taken in my home town chained together and attached to a large piece of found driftwood, various things collected from the beach, and thrifted pearl and shell beads for 'decoration' all combined to form a curated image of where I am from.
The Jersey Shore is not a hidden gem, it is not shrouded in mystery. Many families and young adults venture out to the coast to soak up some sun, make some questionable drunk decisions, and eat overpriced seafood at a restaurant with a ‘view’ of some body of water.
What happens when these visitors leave? Does life pause, mid ice cream scoop, mid tandem bike ride, awaiting the return of the tourists to pour money into the businesses and populate the sands? Not exactly. The streets empty and shops start to close, but the local crowd wakes up, free to step out behind the counter of their business to finally relax. Behind every vacation town, there is a small community full of families that go way back and remain connected even if they eventually move away.
My thesis is about the idealized and constructed view of my hometown of Beach Haven, New Jersey and the glimpses behind the curtain of the tourist paradise. There is perception, and there is reality, and in my work I aim to emphasize the aspects of beach town stereotypes that do exist while introducing aspects of life that others often forget exist in a place they only visit. Initially I had set out to capture the real, truthful moments but as I looked through my images, I began to notice that I was doing the opposite. I had photographed the happy moments, the beautiful light spreading over classic shore imagery, showing a glimpse into an exclusive community of local shore dwellers but nothing that hadn’t been seen before. The only thing I managed to capture in this series was evidence of a predominantly, almost entirely, white community on the coast of New Jersey whose older generation seemingly made no attempt to welcome outsiders into their home.
From these images I have constructed a loose ‘blanket’ by linking prints of my images together, one metal ring at a time, attaching the entire thing to found driftwood, and attaching found items from my hometown. This blanket represents time and effort that is put into creating a curtain of perception for an idealized community to cover up the deeper issues that lurk just beneath the surface.
In my classroom I need to become aware of what I may be personally romanticizing, and the students need to learn what is beyond the curtain of perception that is often curated. I will focus on creating a safe space where students can form a community and feel comfortable facing some harsher realities and growing from their own experiences and those of others.