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Issues of income inequality and poverty in the United

States were always part of the narrative, but were brought

to a head by today?s political climate, Wolin said. In a

program aired on President Trump?s Inauguration Day,

the German public TV network ZDF interviewed some of

the people that Wolin photographed in Pigeon Hill. Many

of the interview subjects believed that neither candidate

had their best interests at heart. Though disillusionment

with the American dream would seem justified in places

like Pigeon Hill, Wolin points out that the political views

of the people there are not monolithic.

Those of Wolin?s subjects who could vote - many were

convicted felons, who believed that they were unable to do

so by law - did not always fit into the media narrative about

rural voters. ?What I found interesting in the [German]

piece was the number of people from the Hill who said

[Trump] has no interest in helping people like me,? Wolin

said.

Wolin recalls the story of Tim, one of the kids he originally

photographed on the Hill, as a particularly powerful

narrative. ?He was called Timmy as a kid ? in his

photograph he?s holding a ferret that?s kissing him, or it

looks like it?s biting him,? Wolin said. ?He was just a kid

that everyone liked, and I photographed him more than

everybody.?

In the follow-up photograph, Wolin visited the Wabash

Valley Correctional Facility to photograph him in prison.

Timwas incarcerated for failing to pay child support. Wolin

says that his experience reuniting with Tim opened the

door to learning about injustices within our prison system.

?I started to learn about the American treatment of poor

people and how basically everything they do is criminalized,?

Wolin said. ?Should you pay child support? Yes, of course.

Can you pay child support when you?re in prison? No, you

can?t. Can you see your kids when you?re in prison? No,

you can?t. You can?t even call them on the phone because

everything is privatized.? With the increasing privatization

of American prisons, the people who can least afford it are

being charged for basic services.

Timwound up serving seven years altogether. After he left

prison, his life took a turn for the better; he found a job

at Indiana University and got married. Wolin, of course,

volunteered to photograph the happy occasion.

Though there are some stories of success, Wolin reports

that overall, conditions in Pigeon Hill have more or less

stayed the same. He emphasizes that although community

organizations and mentorship programs have helped

improve life for people on Pigeon Hill, growing up in

housing projects puts individuals at a disadvantage. Wolin?s

longitudinal series of photographs exemplifies the reality

that it is difficult to escape systemic economic inequality.

?Everybody that lives there now says it was so great back

then,? Wolin said. ?People change, and as you get older

everything seems better back in the old days. It looks pretty

much exactly the same. Some people have left to hopefully

better conditions; some people now live in trailer parks out

in the country; some people are homeless; some people are

imprisoned; and some who have stayed have made better

lives.?The range of narratives Wolin captures in

Pigeon Hill:

Then and Now

demonstrates the complexity of the rural

American experience.

10

Image:

Kym w/ Caesarean Scar, Woodland Springs Apartments

, 2013, Jeffrey Wolin. Courtesy of the artist.

?Though there are some stories of

success,Wolin reports that overall,

conditions in PigeonHill havemore

or less stayed the same.?