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This body of work is a reflection of the cultural landscape; specifically the areas between my former home in Tennessee and my current in Chicago. The deliberate use of color coupled with unique perspective, subjectivity, and the traditional documentary style captures the passage of time within the contemporary American landscape, as well as the people that created it. In these photographs grandiose monuments and picturesque landscapes must yield to the ordinary, which truly defines a culture. In fact, these subjects are so commonplace, that with a glance, many disregard their importance. Places: familiar, overlooked and underappreciated, are finally awarded the attention they deserve.
Collectively, these photographs give the viewer the feeling that the places are simultaneously everywhere and nowhere – the images are less about a specific place and more about interaction and interpretation of their environs. Additionally, by emphasizing the objects that may remain unseen or may not be considered beautiful, questions the very nature of beauty. Many of the photographs carry a sense of melancholy that speak of failed expectations of the American dream never brought to fruition because of urban and suburban expansion and the interstate system. The intention is to help bring focus to these places from the larger, collective, social radar and give the viewer the opportunity to discover the beauty in the mundane.
Melissa K. Stallard was born in the coal fields of Southwest Virginia then uprooted to a wide spot in the middle of the road in Northeast Tennessee at thirteen. Most of her formative years were spent in the back seat of her parents' car roaming the countryside throughout the region. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from East Tennessee State University in 2003. A year later, she relocated to Chicago, IL where she finally learned to appreciate the things that she had had her entire life. She received a Master of Fine Arts in photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2008. She is currently an assistant professor of photography at the University of Akron in Ohio.