Dying Art is a collection of images from my time documenting the older population in the rural desert town of Quartzsite, A.Z. during the winter of 2010. I began documenting the local Quartzsite Gem and Mineral Club where I was also learning lapidary arts and silversmithing. I was enthralled by the act of turning stones into art and floored at the depth of knowledge from the members, most of whom were over the age of 70. I then began documenting the local beading club, run by a well-known beading artist named Carol.
Both art forms are dying off as the generations pass away and their children and grandchildren fail to pick up the hobbies that their elders loved and established community around. A multitude of reasons exist for not picking up these activities, but at the end of the day, the younger generations lack the time and interest to learn such crafts and pass them along to the generation behind them, as has been done for decades, if not centuries.
I created these images before the algorithms destroyed the elderly generation’s ability to process fact from fiction, before identity politics shattered our communities and before a pandemic swept through the elderly population with a vengeance. These images were taken just before the Tea Party began and the SCOTUS ruling on election donations gave dark money free reign in our politics.
Working with these images now is bittersweet. I enjoyed my time with elders, the stories they told me while they were crafting left me fascinated and enthralled. This generation was born just before the Great Depression. Many of them did not have running water or electricity in their homes and began working at very young ages, on farms or at a market in the local town. What they had now was time and wisdom, and they shared it freely with me as an observer and curious artisan.
Fast forward several years after these images were taken and I could not even visit these maker spaces. They were overrun with the rhetoric of racism, identity politics, gender bias and intolerance. The town itself, once known for its winter snowbird RV population and the miners who passed through to sell their stones on the way to Tuscon, became a perpetual reflection of a Trump rally. I watched with utter despair as the elder population around me, aunts, uncles and friends, become indoctrinated into utter fear and hatred that seeped into almost every conversation and quiet moment we had together.
The elders I love dearly succumbed to the algorithms and mainstream media machine designed to keep them steeped in fear, hatred and racism in the final years of their lives. They entered life in a time of utter destitution and they left this life enveloped in fear.
These images show a simpler time, just before the polarization fractured our communities. A time where coffee was $0.25 and all the signs in a space were scribbled on cardboard with a Sharpie. A time where computers were completely absent and most people did not carry a phone on them. These images show a slower life that is still possible if we turn some of our time to the maker ethos. These images show a lost wisdom from a generation who created the middle class and lost the plot at the very end.
The Collection Details
The collection is currently being edited and should be ready for collecting in the coming week(s). The first batch is shown above and is an edit from the Gem and Mineral Club. The second collection will be from the beading club and should be ready in a few weeks.
These images were shot with a Canon 1V film camera on Ilford black and white film. These are fresh scans at 2400-3200 DPI and some film grain in them. Dust spots were removed and basic dodge/burning are part of my editing process. I only edit my film scans as I would have done so in the darkroom. Any further manipulation just feels wrong (I'm an old school darkroom/analog photog).
NFTs will be minted on an artist owned contracts on Highlight.xyz and will range in price from 45 MATIC to 450 MATIC and will be minted on Polygon. Each NFT will have functionality built into it for future perks and events. First priority will be given to active collectors of my work, token holders and subscribers.
Proceeds from my NFT collections support my work in the public goods impactDAO ecosystem working to restore local media through decentralization at JournoDAO and my academic work studying and archiving wisdom traditions through decentralization.