General Entry - Emerging Talent Awards
Project info

SUBURBAN SPLENDOR

I am a first-generation suburbanite. Though now living in the city, I grew up in the suburbs of Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Utah. My parents are from small, poor southern Utah towns; my father worked the mines as a young man, as did his father. With no education beyond high school, they worked their way into the middle-class and “settled,” so to speak, in the still relatively new suburbs of the 1970s in the West. They were part of a major demographic shift having begun after World War II where (largely) white people moved out of urban and rural areas into shiny, new homes in the suburbs. They believed in the American Dream and hoped for a better, safer, quieter future where home values would only increase.

Ethnically neutered by big-box corporate retailers, stale fast food chains, interchangeable car dealerships, and lily-white residents housed in suburbia’s cookie-cutter subdivisions, this unwittingly became my heritage, vapid and formulaic, but modestly privileged. Decades after moving to suburbia, the promise has faded. Now, a new breed of disillusioned brave, young suburbanites are moving back to America’s trendy urban centers. Immune to this demographic trend, my family rear the second generation of suburbanites who are coming of age here, as I did. I wonder: Who are the youth of contemporary American suburbia? What is life really like there in the 21st Century? Through a series of portraits and unscripted moments, I grapple with this “heritage” and peek behind the veil of banality surrounding suburban life, focusing on my teen and pre-teen nieces, nephews and their friends in Utah as they make their way through contemporary suburban America.