Carolyn Ballou

De-industry 2
digital photography
72 x 72 in.

Living in Cleveland for most of my life has given me the opportunity to see the city ebb and flow with life and blight, as suburban sprawl continues to change the internal structure of downtown Cleveland. I spent many hours traversing the streets of Cleveland’s near east side to explore abandoned industrial sites. After spending time in these incredible and beautiful structures, I began to view the growth among the decaying spaces as an act of Nature, “reclaiming” her land. Trees and flowers grow inside these structures that once held the guts of bustling industries.

I am intrigued by the images that began to emerge as I layered and juxtaposed photographs of downtown Cleveland’s urban growth and urban decay within the same compositions. Ironically, the decrepitude is filled with life.

The abandoned structures serve as a canvas with which the local population can interact: artists use these spaces as surfaces for graffiti, or in my case, subjects for composition. My connection to these desolate spaces contrasts the frenzied activity I feel in the thriving commercial areas downtown. The sites I have used for these images hold the memory of commercial vitality, but their true vitality is in the natural growth that occurs in tandem with this decay. I have combined tight, technical aspects of photography with the freedom of digital editing. Once I have captured a series of images the process of montage begins. I layer the images like a puzzle as I stitch them together, pixel by pixel. Enjoy the work, and please respect the copyrighted images.

© Carolyn Ballou