by David H. Wells
Guest Curated by Viera Levitt
April 18 – May 12, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013, 5PM – 9PM
During Gallery Night Providence
Salon at The Providence Athenaeum:
Friday, April 19, 2013, 5PM – 7PM
Sponsored by James Brayton Hall
Special Performances of Gather by Community MusicWorks throughout April:
Dates to be announced online
Thursday + Friday, 3PM – 8PM
Saturday + Sunday, 12PM – 5PM
Other days by appointment.
Yellow Peril Gallery is pleased to present FORECLOSED DREAMS, a photo essay by David H. Wells exploring the empty homes and foreclosed dreams in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. This exhibition is guest curated by Viera Levitt.
Owning a home is the American dream. However, numerous American homeowners are either behind on their mortgage payments or in the process of foreclosure. Their empty homes are powerful symbols of lives shattered and families devastated. This is the reality FORECLOSED DREAMS documents and explores.
After a house is foreclosed and current owners forced out, there is a fleeting moment when the ghosts of the one-time owners are all that is left – before the houses are cleaned and returned to the real estate market. The remaining signs of life photographed during this period of time echo the voices and footsteps that once filled these emptied houses. David Wells listens to these echoes and provides a calm view of details and objects of everyday life that were left behind as if people were to come back in a minute, unfinished sandwiches, valuable awards, books, photographs of their happiness, children’s toys, that were clearly an intimate part of somebody’s life and lost their importance, meaning, lost the context of everyday presence of the users of the house. Wells’ camera often documents these spaces from unusual angles emphasizing the object in the front, as ghost from the past, as embodiment of the memory that has nobody to decipher now.
“I focused on empty homes, as they are immovable objects and stand in stark contrast to the highly mobile American dream. I chose not to focus on individual families in foreclosure because I wanted to explore the issue from a broader perspective,”
Spreading across the nation like an epidemic, the number of foreclosures is so vast and the problem so overwhelming that most people considering the issue simply get lost among the numbers. Wells started the project in April of 2009, with the goal of understanding the economic upheaval we are living through. He initially photographed in the Central Valley of California, an epicenter of the foreclosure crisis, but also focused on Rhode Island where he lives, which has a foreclosure rate very similar to that of California. More recently he has photographed in other states including Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
“Telling the story visually connects the viewer to the realities on the ground,” says Wells. “The work explores the large numbers and the intimate nature of the traumatic losses others suffered. Simply put, my audience is anyone who is worrying about the possible foreclosure of their own dreams, those who have already experienced that trauma and anyone concerned or interested in what’s happening to the American dream.”
On Friday, April 19, the Providence Athenaeum will host a Salon featuring photographer David H. Wells, Community MusicWorks Managing Director Kimberly Young, and Yellow Peril Curator Robert P. Stack in a conversation exploring the role of the arts in promoting social change. The discussion will highlight Wells's work, as well as Community MusicWorks' project, Gather, taking place throughout April, in which the musicians of CMW will partner with designers and a community development organization to host a series of intimate performances of Beethoven's final composition for string quartet in a formerly distressed private home in Providence's Olneyville neighborhood. Performance dates will be shared online when finalized. The Salon is from 5PM to 7PM at the Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit Street, and is free and open to the public; the sponsor is James Brayton Hall.
The opening reception for FORECLOSED DREAMS is on Thursday, April 18, from 5PM – 9PM during Gallery Night Providence. The exhibition will be on display through Sunday, May 12, 2013.
About David H. Wells
DAVID H. WELLS is a freelance photographer affiliated with Aurora Photos and a photo educator living in Providence, RI. His work has been featured in one-person exhibits at Brown University, Providence, RI; University of California, Berkeley, CA; and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. His work has been part of group exhibitions at the Houston FotoFest and the Visa pour l’Image Festival in Perpignan, France. He has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Visual Studies Workshop and the Light Works Photography Center. Wells has taught classes at the University of Pennsylvania as well as workshops at the International Center for Photography, NYC, and the Maine Media Workshops. Wells’ photo essays have been funded by fellowships from Nikon/NPPA, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the MacArthur Foundation’s Program of Research and Writing on International Peace and Cooperation, the Alicia Patterson Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation. For more info, visit www.davidhwells.com.