The photographs in Rivertown explore the post-industrial landscape of my native Western Pennsylvania. They tell a story about what has become of the communities that were left behind in the wake of Big Steel’s exit during the 1970s. These pictures, mostly of houses, describe where people live and how the land was shaped to fit the needs of the iron boomtowns. The men and woman who used to live in these houses traded their time for meager wages that paid for mortgages, new vinyl siding, and gasoline. For the next generation there is only an inheritance of stagnation, littered with empty mills and abandoned mines. After the passing of these thriving industries what is to become of this way of life?
Here, time is not unlike any other exhausted resource expelled back into the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers – a quiet erosion reshaping the riverbanks and hillsides. Now there exists a disconnect within communities, a certain cold isolation and anxiety about the future. These photographs, made in the winters between 2007 and 2011, serve as relics of a particular place situated in time. They remain, as if fixed in hot ash, documents of a fallen empire.
Born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1986, Sean Stewart has been photographing the social and physical landscape of Western Pennsylvania with a large format camera for over 5 years. His work has been exhibited and published internationally. Sean lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Artist’s Website: seanstewartphotography.com