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Scott Strazzante March 28, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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From the “Common Ground” Project. Lockport, Illinois 2000/2009

Scott Strazzante (b.1964, USA) was born and raised in the shadows of the steel mills on the far southeast corner of Chicago. The son of a tire dealer, Scott first became interested in photography when he started taking his dad’s Canon AE-1 to Chicago White Sox games. After graduating from Ripon College, he began, what has now been, a 24-year career at Chicago-area newspapers.  In 2000, while employed at The Herald News in Joliet, Scott was named National Newspaper Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association and the Missouri School of Journalism. In 2007, he won 2nd place in POYi’s Newspaper Photographer of the Year competition. A seven time Illinois Photographer of the Year, Scott spent the last nine years at the Chicago Tribune where he works as a general assignment photographer.

About the Photograph:

“In 1994, I told, in images, a simple tale of two senior citizen cattle farmers who lived and worked on a 118-acre tract of land in Lockport, Illinois, thirty-five miles southwest of Chicago. After publication, I continued to document the daily lives of those farmers, Harlow and Jean Cagwin, on my own time as a personal project and that work eventually evolved into a study of aging, the disappearing family farm and suburban sprawl.  In 2007, the story turned into something totally different, when I started photographing the Grabenhofer family, who live at the end of a Willow Walk subdivision cul de sac, on the very land that the Cagwins once toiled. The study of the two seemingly disparate ways of life is told in diptychs, comparing and contrasting the lives of the Cagwins and the Grabenhofers.”

“Most people seem saddened when they view the project but I don’t consider Common Ground to be anti-subdivision, but instead, an unbiased historical document that allows the viewers to make their own conclusions. In 2008, an excerpt of the project was published in National Geographic and later that year, Media Storm produced a seven minute video that debuted at the Look 3 Festival. The above coupling is a recent one as I continue the project in hopes of getting a book published sometime in the near future. On the left, is a December 2000 image of a snow-covered Cagwin cow , while on the right, is a November 2009 detail shot of a plastic cup that Caity, one of the Grabenhofer triplets, drew a pig on. I realize that I never will finish this project but I think that at this point it is pretty close to being a complete thought.”

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