When I lived in southern Illinois, I became captivated by the news headlines that detailed the activities of criminals in the region. My photographic series, A Good Man is Hard to Find, is inspired by mug shots as well as the sensational and mundane crimes described in the local daily news. I turned to Flannery O’Connor’s short stories to title each photograph and the project overall. Each image is based on a specific criminal and the crime he allegedly committed. To recreate the criminal's story, I've staged environmental portraits where a dark mood and a suggested narrative envelop the man representing the criminal. Like the characters in O’Connor’s stories, in every composition, I position the men with a choice: face the beauty before him with humanity and humility or disregard it entirely. The men in the images are consumed by this moment of choice, prior to committing the crime. Ultimately, each criminal fails to see the beauty before him. These elaborated portraits flesh out the narratives of our violent society, specifically the violence generated by men.
Overall, the project looks at the local criminal living on the cusp of the North American Bible belt today. I want to capture his absurdity and his selfishness. The employment of O’Connor’s words connects her southern, often sanctimonious subjects, to these alleged criminals. In addition to the stories by Flannery O’Connor, this project is greatly inspired by the writing of Rebecca Solnit. Solnit wrote in Men Explain Things to Me, “What’s the matter with manhood? There’s something about how masculinity is imagined, about what is praised and encouraged, about the way violence is passed on to boys that needs to be addressed.”
Similarly, I am engrossed by the fact that nearly all alleged crimes I reference, especially the violent ones, are committed by men. My project reveals how the pursuit of power, often through violence, both alienates and makes the modern man.