Will Steacy Photographs the Madison Protests and More

Will Steacy, The Media, Madison, 2011

Click the image above to see Will Steacy’s photos of the Madison protests.

I stumbled over the Madison Protest photographs (above) as I was researching photographer Will Steacy. I was googling Scacy because he made two most amazing photographs in The Truth is Not a Mirror at the Haggerty Art Museum (through May 22nd):  Sammy, Atlantic City (2008) and Tony, San Francisco (2010).

Will Steacy, Tony, San Francisco, 2010

Will Steacy, Sammy, Atlantic City, 2008

These two photographs (above) are part of Steacy’s series entitled “Down These Mean Streets” photographed in the middle of the night as the artist walks the streets around major airports. These images are like no other photographs I have ever seen and I can’t really put words to why this is so.

Here is a description of “Down These Mean Street” from Steacy’s blog:

In my new on-going series “Down These Mean Streets” I examine fear and the abandonment of America’s inner cities. Photographing only at night with a large format view camera, I work in a set routine by walking from the airport to the central business district of each city I photograph. My focus is the parts of the city you don’t want to be in at night; the part of town you drive through – not to – with your windows rolled up and doors locked. The guts and history of the American city lie between the airport and city center as a portrait of the modern day American inner city has gone missing. America has turned its back on cities through years of abandonment and neglect allowing neighborhoods to crumble with no local economy, a public education system that barely meets requirements, a low income housing disaster, few options for proper nutrition and health care. Violence and drugs reign, and there seems to be little or no way out as survival becomes a number one priority. 

Fueled by America’s preoccupation with homeland security and protecting our country from foreign forces that we have lost sight of what it is we are for fighting for. We have forgotten our own cities, neighborhoods and streets. By addressing the overwhelming loss and despair that prevail in our urban communities my aim is to reveal an intimate look at what our cities have become as problems and issues cannot be solved if they are not first identified. America is at a crossroads as we are waist deep in an economic crisis, still at war and trying to find our place within a rapidly changing global society. This project is a contribution to the conversation of our country’s future and it demands that we look inward at ourselves and what we have allowed to occur.

About Patricia Briggs
Patricia Briggs is the director of galleries and curator of exhibitions at Jamestown Community College in Western New York. She writes the blog "Scene Unseen: Viewing Notes" about visual art in her community.

11 Responses to Will Steacy Photographs the Madison Protests and More

  1. Melanie says:

    I am nearly 60. When I was a kid in the 1960s, I did not know I was poor, that I lived on “that” side of the tracks. There were a lot of kids who were poorer than our family. There were kids that didn’t have a Dad. Ours was drunk, but he did live with us. Back then welfare gave you food, powered milk and canned meat, not stamps you could trade for caviar. I don’t remember being hungry. I did not know why our country was in a war back then either.

    We haven’t lost our inner cities. We’ve lost our memories. The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ve always been a witness, but outsiders looking in will always misconstrue the facts and opportunities offered by an unfamiliar place.

    • I Melanie,
      Do you think this guy, WIll Steacy, seems like an outsider? I think he gets that a lot. What struck me about these two photographs was that he seemed to be showing me something beyond slumming (which you get in a lot of photography). I felt like he was putting himself inside a parallel universe I had never even been aware of all of a sudden realized was real.

  2. Melanie says:

    For me, there is a disconnect between his images and what he has written about the work. Perhaps these two images do not best capture the essence of the entire project. The inner city is who you “were,” back then…those places are not lost, as Steacy suggests. Rather, perhaps, Steacy is no longer there…If he was ever there, I can’t say for sure. He seems young.

    These two images are compelling. yes. They capture a life where death is often the focus. These are a refreshing tangent from the obligatory images of blood in the street, the vacant lot, the chain-link fence…the images white men tend to capture when they have something to save, or destroy.

    But, the feelings you express about the work, perhaps, says more about you than it does about the work itself or the subject-matter, or the man who shot them. These force you to look, rather than look away.

  3. hi ,i think it is about American society that more and more people who come to and far away their homeland and can not search the answer — who is who ? when person come ,they think they will have much of the serve and society profile and will not face to the crisis and war ,but nowday ,society question is obviously and can not reserve all ,they will dispointed and will nervous and will think—-

  4. as an modern society ,it will show more and more problem and give more and more mixed . as American country ,it is big and wide and can not resolve all people’s question ,and then the other country will? will it be the same to the other country?will it be the national problem ,the race problem and the relief problem ?or the other ?

  5. nancy roth says:

    They seem to support the idea that the meanings we get from photographs don’t depend on their link to a specific past moment. They are, in fact, linked in such a way, but they affect us–if we let them–as possibilities, realisations, or projections. They direct thoughts toward the future.

  6. Peter Spooner says:

    Capitalism is dead. Long live capitalism.
    At this point, it is up to the people.
    I am just a guy, and I’ve gone down myself, but I notice a few things have helped my spirit:
    1. find a patch of dirt, improve it, plant some vegetables and flowers, enjoy some and give some away.
    2. do anything small or large for someone else
    3. close your eyes and ask for help

  7. maggie venn says:

    Will Steachy’s photos of Tony and Sammy are totally beautiful and compelling. Adding words to these images is not necessary as the images speak volumes on their own. Steachy’s words just ‘muddle the message’ dilutes,confuses—I think the words are not true to these images. The work speaks for itself, art history can do the words. That’s you, Patricia! And doing a great job!

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