I've written before about the complexities and paradoxes of small town life. Contemporary rural places are caught between two narratives.
The first has roots in the 1980’s farm crisis. It is a is fatalistic one: rural places are dying.
The second is woven by small town boosters. They point to promising demographic trends and talk with passion about new businesses and housing shortages.
There is truth in both narratives. But America’s small town reality is more complex. Some places thrive, others struggle. And in every small town there is a mix of success and challenge.
This theme is captured by artist Steve Fitch in a project now on display at M12 Studio in Byers, Colorado. Fitch's work, Mainstreet Views, uses contrasting visual representations to illustrate the complexity of rural places today.
As described by M12 Studio:
by Steve Fitch | M12 Studio
Main Street Views explores the vastness of the plains region...
Steve Fitch combines two photographic views, one straight on, laser focused that shows boarded up windows referencing the current health of our rural towns and the second an aerial bird's eye view which pushes our eyes toward a holistic perspective of small town living, filling the picture frame with productive farmland, well tended houses and newer agricultural structures.
In this series of photographs Fitch attempts to calibrate our visual inferences about rural space by balancing aging historic relics with future dreams found on the prairie sea.