Charlotte NC, USA




Brett Schenning is a documentarian working primarily with traditional and alternative photographic processes. His work focuses on environmental sustainability, rural politics, and community relationships. He is currently a Professor at Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina.

Artist Statement:

Small Towns, Big Dreams examines the ramifications of the Great Recession of 2008, focusing specifically on consequences in rural American communities. After the housing market crashed and jobs dried up many families that were looking for a quieter way of life had to retreat from pastoral areas and move to urban centers where housing was within the proximity of employment opportunities. In the wake of their exodus the small towns they had once called home were left to contend with the overindulgences of a population that had altered the once self-sufficient cities. An effort to bring all of the conveniences of modern society to these simple municipalities meant many small businesses were pushed out to make room for corporate chains. The inescapable upkeep and consequential disintegration plaguing many communities that no longer have the money flowing in to maintain these conveniences is still being felt to this day. Infrastructure designed for heavy traffic, the systematic clearing of forests, and the rezoning of farmland permanently scarred a countryside that is no longer familiar to those that have called this land home for generations and remained behind. What now endures in these villages is a reaffirmation of the resilience of America’s forgotten citizens, and the indomitable spirit of small communities.

Practice Statement: How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?

It is important for me to create art that is tangible, and the film negative is one aspect of that physical manifestation contained in my photographic practice. The idea of capturing light is like making a plaster cast of a footprint; I am taking something transitory and making it permanent. I look at myself like an archeologist who is creating a permanent record for future generations to study.