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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
EPF 2010 Finalist
When the Spirit Moves
I’ve heard people say that since America has it’s first Black President in office, we have transitioned into a post-racial society. If he can succeed, then all people of color can do the same. This supposed land of the free is at liberty to those that have the wealth to buy it.
Those living in Chester, PA, USA, grow up in an environment where forces everywhere are against them; where gravity seems to be stronger and less forgiving. It is a place where pollution alters cognitive development, violence and crime are commonplace, poverty is oppressive, jobs are virtually non-existent, and people with nothing take from others who have little
If you walk these streets, you pass people in a trance, who speak without being heard. You see children with shallow eyes, with scars deep. Ghosts are everywhere, fading from neglect. There is little for people to grasp a hold of for support, to deliver them through. People are forced into carrying this burden of weight and thus are required to be strong to withstand it.
I was besieged while witnessing the issues weighing heavily on the lives of the people in this community. In experimenting with multiple exposures, I’m attempting to speak to the complexities I felt were so tightly woven into their lives. With out this approach, my work would not begin to unfold the many consequences that have come out of their collective struggle. In this process of layering interrelated moments next to one other, I’m cautious not to bend or manipulate reality beyond recognition, for the benefit of my own aesthetics or ego. I want these moments to be believable and not just passed off as artistic representations of the truth.
This project is an attempt to bring awareness to the issues that plague many inner city Black communities, like Chester, throughout America. Mostly importantly though, it’s an attempt to show the resilience and strength that is present in these communities.
Justin Maxon (1983) was born in a small town in the woods of northern California. Nothing but trees and hippies sorta thing. He first got into photography at an early age, but then only took pictures of mountains and other woody features. Today, Maxon is mainly interested in pursuing long-term projects that examine the complexities of human struggle, where he seeks out the hope always present in the shadows of life.
Maxon has received numerous awards for his photography, from competitions like UNICEF Images of the Year, POYi, and NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism. He won first place in the 2007 World Press Photo Daily Life Singles category, along with winning the Deeper Perspective Photographer of the Year at the 2008 Lucie Awards. In 2009, he was named one of PDNs 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch.
His clients include TIME, Newsweek, Mother Jones Magazine, Fader Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and NPR.