Artist Statement

Growing up on a sheep ranch in Wyoming, I learned first-hand what it was like from my parents to work hard and provide for your family. From this experience, I learned how to handle the struggles of not being able to hire people to help work on the ranch. I learned the vicissitudes that would cause downfall to the sheep ranch from the economy. As I got older, I have watched America start to downshift from their middle-class worker. The United States wants to be the best country as technology starts to intertwine through careers, creating a separation in the work field.

I traveled to Italy to study abroad and learn a completely new culture. There was no way to prepare for the lifelong adjustment and changing that would occur. Making friends with the locals and learning about the economy has created a new thought process for my life. I have learned through the farmers and ranchers that it is illegal to irrigate their crops, creating dry hay for their livestock to eat. Farmers are hanging on by a thread finding niches to keep afloat from large corporation farms and laws taking over. Some of these niches are creating wine, olive oil, and Pecorino cheese to sell to family and friends.

The United States is starting to go through these transitions. Living in Wyoming, I am witnessing that the breadwinner is disappearing. If countries allow these trends to continue taking over the middle-class jobs, we will become ghosts and struggle as immigrants flighting to new countries to beg on streets for enough to buy food. Italy has started to see this and it is not the only country about to see these harsh conditions.

Through this project, I created a diptych utilizing black and white mixed with color. The black and white photographs represent artisans and middle-class worker jobs that are slowly disappearing in Italy. The job that is replacing the craft is showcased through color representing here and now.

This project is design to create questions in the viewer’s mind the next time they go shopping or the next time they hire a contractor. It is design for the viewer to start asking questions of why they are buying a product made by a machine over the product made by man. Each generation tries to make it better for the next one to come. Advancing in technology has made it more efficient and quicker to do a job. The more advanced we get with technology does this mean more or less jobs for the common breadwinner?

Transforming through Wheels: Taxis in the form of horse buggies allow a personal connection through the old walls that showcase Italy. These taxis allow you to see Florence at a slow pace in peace and quite. Slowly disappearing into the faster life ahead, automobile taxis get you to places faster but don't allow you to see the landscape through the slow pace of life.
Floating through the Years: Two hundred years ago, there were 10,000 gondolas in Venice. Although the aristocracy preferred horses to boats through the early Middle Ages, beginning in the 14th century, when horses were outlawed from the streets of Venice, the noble class embraced gondolas as a respectable form of transportation. The modern boats have taken the transportation and transferred it to only a tourist attraction.
The Personal Touch: Grandma, I will send you a postcard. Grandma, I will text you when I get there. Fewer postcards are being sent as more and more people buy smart phones. Sending a letter is more personal than a text. A person has to take the time to write a letter, address it, and stamp it. This is more meaningful than just sending a quick text.
A Place of Magical Time: Once apon a time, photographers were able to produce a print and sell it. This is becoming harder and more rare as more digital cameras come into the hands of the population. Just as the Kodak Brownie made it possible for households to have a camera, the smart phone has made it possible for anyone to take a great picture for memory.
Painting Through New Colors: An artist puts a lot of work in to its original painting. When it is duplicated and sold through mass production it loses its value.
Each Book Is A New Adventure: The more generations make it easy, the more jobs are being replaced with technology and machines. Publishing businesses are hiring fewer people to put together books and buying more machines to do the job.
The Spark in Creativity: Mass production is an important quality for corporation. The more quantity the more money. Small artisans cannot keep up with mass production, especially when machines do most of the work.
The Strip into the Future: Leather artisans are becoming fewer and fewer as mass production has been able to decrease the cost in a leather product. Many corporations have discovered how to produce artificial leather to keep the cost down for the consumer.
Footsteps of the Past: Taking your shoes to get fixed is a thing of the past. Instead of taking your shoes to get fixed, most people just throw them away and buy a new pair.
One Thread, One Needle, One Web: The World Wide Web was once a dream, now its more of a nightmare for small business owners. Online shopping is keeping the customer from leaving their household and walking into Ma & Pa stores.
From One Generation to the Next: Going to a restaurant is becoming the past, as more delivery men are bringing your food to your household.
Farm-to-Table: Fast food chains are overtaking the family owned restaurants. Small sandwich shops compete more and more to keep local and tourist customers. Small restaurants come up with new niches such as bringing food from farms to the table.
Grinding through the Grit: The art of building by hand has disappeared due to the automatic tools.
Mopping the Past into the Future: As we continue to create machines to do the work, the easier it gets on the companies. If we go too far do we lose jobs for the breadwinner?

History of Italy’s Economy

Italy was a divided kingdom before 1861. Habsburg Empire controlled most of the minor kingdoms in 1861, during this time Italy was united. Count Cavour wore many hats in Italy. He was the Minister of Marine, Commerce and Agriculture in 1850, the Minister of Finance in 1851, and the Prime Minister in 1852. There was a major regional division between the Northern and Southern parts of Italy. The northern region dominated in politics and in the economy. Northern Italy created high tariffs upon importing wheat, one of the Souths most popular product. The tariffs helped Southern Italy; the southern farms were producing products sold in France. When France could not sell its products of Italy then the farmers of southern Italy could not sell crops. These tariffs ended up creating more economic problems for southern Italy than intended on. Soon farmers could not keep upfloat and the living conditions became unbearable. Many fled the south migrating to Northern Italy or to America.

When he died the Kingdom of Italy experience a decline in its progress toward industrialization creating a long pathway for the country until 1890 when Italy slowly began to industrialize. After WWI socialists and communists created turmoil in Italy. These groups won most of the city governments organizing the Fascist Party to take control of the Italian government. Mussolini the operator behind the party became ruler of Italy as a dictator in the late 1920’s an allied with Hitler during WWII. When the war was over, and Italy was defeated, their transportation and housing was destroy. Besides the poor economy in natural resources and agriculture land not being very productive, Banca d’Italia added inflation through extensive issue of paper money. The Italian Government owned 80 percent of the shipbuilding industry, 60 percent of the pig iron industry and 40 percent of the industry for the building railway rolling stock. In 1940’s the country focused on communications, electricity, shipping, shipbuilding, steel, and engineering.

After WWII Italy lost most of its industrialization and manufactures. Italy remained as a lower economy country and each time it started to succeed through the economic world, something would happen to create a recession.

One of the most important pillars of the economy is the production of high-quality products such as in the machinery, textiles, industrial designs, alimentary and furniture sectors. Artisans became part of the growth through the backbone of the economy. As technology has embraced the future and the world has developed ways to make mass production, these breadwinner jobs are decreasing. Technology is replacing many jobs, machines replace workers, and mass productions from corporations are putting ma and pa businesses out into the streets.

Credits: Tanya Hamner

"Academy of Art University, Photography Study Abroad Class, Summer 2018"

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