Statement

COPIA
Plenty, a plentiful supply: now chiefly in L. phrase copia verborum abundance of words,
a copious vocabulary. Cf. COPY n. 1c.

I. a. Plenty, abundance, a copious quantity.
b. Fullness, plentitude. Obs.
c. esp. of language: Copiousness, abundance, fullness, richness.
copy of words : = L. copia verborum. Obs.

II. A transcript of reproduction of an original.

Over the past 10 years I have been engaged with a long-term photographic examination of the peculiarities and complexities of the consumer-dominated culture in which we live. This project titled Copia, explores not only the everyday activities of shopping, but the economic, cultural, social, and political implications of commercialism and the roles we play in self-destruction, over-consumption, and as targets of marketing and advertising.

Initially this project began as a response to the heated environment of 2001. The communal sense of grieving, healing and solidarity that broke down social walls as our nation grappled to make some sense of the tragedy of September 11th was quickly outpaced as the government encouraged citizens to take to the malls to boost the U.S. economy thereby equating consumerism with patriotism. The first series in this project, Retail, began in an effort to discover if citizens were in fact responding this way. Focusing on the middle-class shopping experience in big-box, malls and department stores, through candid portraits and still lives, I promptly became aware that the topic of consumerism dealt with a vast and complexly important part of our lives. It was daunting to face the task of creating a personal photographic description of such a far-reaching and historical subject. As a result I knew that my work would have to become more informed and methodical, and like many photographers before me the exploration of the subject required an exploration of our country. From the dizzying Mall of America, to hyper real Las Vegas, to countless fluorescent lit box stores across the Midwest and even to the glitzy and manic spectacle of shopping in New York City, place was not the primary part of the photograph but rather a signifier of the homogenization of our contemporary lives.

My commitment to this project, as one more important than vast, guided me to focus Copia into individual chapters, each which represents a facet of economic class. While Retail focuses on the middle class, Thrift followed in this model with photographs of the secondary life cycle of consumer goods.  The manufacture of new goods was reaching dizzying heights, while the thrift shops struggle to sort the gamut of recycled and donated items daily. Clearly the amount of things produced outweighs the ability to consider them. In 2008 entitled Dark Stores, Ghost Boxes and Dead Malls. In the recent economic downturn some of the very stores I photographed at the beginning of the project are now emptied and laid barren in the hulking empty architecture of the big box, mall or store.