Views from the Heartland: Daniel Farnum

We were very excited to discover the work of Michigan photographer Daniel Farnum a few weeks back. His work is refreshingly real and perfectly captures the essence of being from not only the Midwest, but also the Rust Belt. The artist’s statement regarding his work:

Young Blood: Michigan’s Urban Youth

In recent years, the FBI has repeatedly designated my hometown Saginaw, Michigan as having the most violent crimes per capita in the country. Flint and Detroit are also frequently listed in the top ten. These photographs investigate young people raised amidst a backdrop of mass exodus after years of economic decomposition in the region.

Primarily I focus on the disenfranchised, the misunderstood, the urban pioneers, the aspiring thugs, and the hipsters whose youthfulness contrasts the harsh condition of the places in which they are photographed. I am interested in how these specific locations shape the aspirations, both lofty and shallow, and attitude of its residents. Of particular interest to me is how this under-populated yet developed urban landscape promotes a type of freedom due to lack of order. This commonality amongst the young inhabitants I photograph poses questions about the fragile uncertainty of the region’s ability to renew itself.

I was born and raised in Michigan and personally witnessed how the economic nosedive affected friends, family, and communities. This is an important and pivotal time in the state’s history due to the recent national focus on this area brought about by sky rocketing unemployment, controversial automotive bailouts, and continuing crime. My background as a former resident allows me to view Michigan with a level of intimacy and familiarity that more fully addresses the physical as well as the mental ramifications of living in such a challenging place.

You can check out four of his photographs submitted on our Photos page. To view Mr. Farnum’s entire gallery, and for more information about him and his work, visit his website here.

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