These photographs are from three recent series by Michael Jacobson-Hardy, focusing on factories, public schools and prisons and on the people whose lives are shaped by these environments. Extending the documentary tradition of such photographers as Walker Evans, Jacobson-Hardy employs a strong aesthetic vision to present his observations on some fundamentally important aspects of contemporary society. The Changing Landscape of Labor, for example, contrasts the workplaces of such traditional industries as paper mills and foundries with newer high-technology industries such as computer manufacturing. By emphasizing the people at work in these factories, Jacobson-Hardy places sweeping industrial change in the context of its effect on individual human beings. Similarly, by depicting children in dilapidated public schools with outdated books and crumbling chalkboards, photographs from the series, Facing Education, underline the connection between reduced educational spending and an erosion of equitable educational opportunities. Finally, in his most recent series, Behind the Razor Wire, Jacobson-Hardy turns to prison environments and inmate populations to examine, again through a portrayal of people in their enforced everyday surroundings, the relationship between social class and incarceration.
Although most of these photographs were made in New England, they reflect troubling national social trends and raise questions of national importance and concern. By combining in this exhibition images from three different series, we hope to examine the interconnections between our society's various institutions; the factories about to close, the neglected schools and the overflowing prisons are not unrelated phenomena as Jacobson-Hardy's compelling images make clear.
Michael Jacobson-Hardy lives in Northampton, Massachusetts; his work has been shown in numerous exhibitions, both in New England and nationally. Some of the photographs included in this series have been published in The Changing Landscape of Labor: American Workers and Workplaces (text by Bruce Laurie, John Cumbler and Robert Weir, University of Massachusetts Press and Behind the Razor Wire: Portrait of a Contemporary American Prison System (text by Angela Davis, John Edgar Wideman and James Gilligan, M.D., New York University Press).
An exhibition of approximately 40 photographs is is available for travel accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with introductory essays on the social context of the images presented and on the history and nature of documentary photography. For further information, contact Michael Jacobson-Hardy: