Kelley Donner

 

Between the Lines

There is something incredibly simple and comforting about the Midwestern landscape, the rhythm of the telephone lines, the soothing colors at dusk, and the sharp shadows and silhouettes made by a cloudless sky. Nevertheless, behind these beautiful images, there is a rural lifestyle that is slowly decaying. Trump's slogan of Make America Great again, a dystopian pipe dream, was grasped onto with enthusiasm by many wanting to believe in anyone willing to promise them that they would not lose everything that they had worked so hard to achieve. Family farms owned for generations and mom and pop business lost to modern capitalism. Our romantic image of the American Midwest is no longer reality.

My mental image of this landscape, etched in my brain already as a small child, of a bold sky cut only apart by lines of cable, will someday, too, be a thing of the past. Just as the rural economy is changing, these lines will disappear as well, like a rubber erasing a part of history. The need for small towns and small farms is disappearing, making the dream of sustainability at a local level nearly impossible. Our continual advances in renewable energy and battery technology will also eventually make the electrical lines I so loved obsolete. It is hard to imagine the Midwestern skyline without the crisscrossing of utility lines. Nevertheless, these lines will someday only be a signifier in old photographs of a romanticized western lifestyle that became no longer sustainable.

Between the lines is a book of 12 images, each four pages a 360 degree panorama and a moment in history. The utility pole emerges as an indexical symbol subtly and sometimes dynamically changing, metamorphosing through history as time transforms its purpose and that of the Midwest itself.

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MA Illustration and Book Art