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Artist Statement

The Eastside in Saint Paul to me is an incredibly diverse, vibrant, and dynamic place. It is, and has been, a neighborhood of recent immigrants, reflecting the variety of their cultures and perspectives in it’s very fabric. It traditionally also is a working-class neighborhood. With that comes a down-to-earth sensibility and ethic – and an aesthetic that has a certain rough-around-the-edges appeal. Finally, the Eastside is a neighborhood that deals with the consequences of many of the social ills that stem from centuries of systemic oppression and neglect.

My hope is that the series of photos in this exhibition capture the creative tensions between these divergent realities on the Eastside. I hope to illuminate how raw and discomforting realities coexist here with vibrant culture and thriving beauty, and that the existence of the latter is not necessarily dependent in the absence of the former. And I hope to achieve this in the context of the danger faced by so many thriving neighborhoods: gentrification, the potential loss of that delicate balance of any transitional neighborhood to the sterile and controlled order of privilege and exclusivity.

I intend these photos to serve as a testament to all the work so many in this neighborhood are doing to build the flourishing community that resides here – and a sobering reminder of how high the stakes are.

Artist Bio

I am a self-taught photographer and a lifelong resident of the Eastside of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

My photography is strongly shaped by the environments I live in and visit. I seek to draw visual parallels between what otherwise might be seen as vastly different places. I believe the frame of the camera lens can capture similarities in place that might otherwise go unnoticed and can isolate common themes that otherwise might be ignored. My major inspiration comes from the works of Gordon Parks, Robert Frank, and Vivian Meier. While those photographers primarily focused on people – and my work is centered on streetscapes and landscapes – I have been deeply influenced by the cutting, honest, and raw reflections of American life created by these masters.

I have previously exhibited with the Solidarity Street Gallery in 2021 as well as local cafes and coffee shops.

967 Payne | ArT @ 967 Payne

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