Dotting every community along Route 66, trailer parks defy the kitschy, invented stereotypes of the road along which they were hauled to reach their current resting places. We’re not talking here about the chrome laden Airstream your trendy brother-in-law is building out, but a lot full of tightly packed rows, thin-walled trailer variety that bears the marks of use over time. These are the trailer parks which have given rise to blue collar jokes, television shows, and conversational references to a particular way of life.
Despite the typical trailer park placement, just beyond the main highway, as if their residents just pulled off to set up camp for the night, typically these parks are full of residents who have been there not months, but years or generations. So to explore these communities and why we are so fascinated with them in Middle America, I decided to rent a trailer myself. It began as a simple month-long endeavor, but much like many trailer park residents, I ended up staying for what seemed infinitely longer than originally thought.
One year later, having made friends with residents, shot photos almost daily, and settled into the unique rhythm of trailer park life, I knew I had what I needed. And looking back through my art after its gestation, I realized that my images captured what I had come to see, that while some may believe trailer parks are where dreams go to die, they are also full of individuals and families who struggle through life like everyone else, but without the benefit of estate-sized lawns and boxwoods separating them from one another. People living in trailer parks are packed into a sort of forced community, and while that negates any notion of privacy, it also breeds resilience, interdependency, and support. As a result many people raised in trailer parks are characteristically more resilient than their suburban counterparts.
In the climate of today’s political and ideological crossroads, perhaps our absolution as a nation lies in acknowledging the struggle. Maybe living life in the open, struggling together and relying on one another rather than separating from each other can help us free ourselves of invented images about who we have been and who we can become.
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