Nick Meyer: The Local
Photographer Nick Meyer has created a remarkable body of work with his powerful project and new book published by MACK, The Local. It’s a collection of unrelenting seeing from a perspective of compassion and familiarity with place, but also a keen sensitivity to the challenged humanity of the residents of a small mill town in Western Massachusetts where he grew up and now lives. He understands the wounds of this world, as it collapses into struggle with opioids and a shrinking economy.
‘As a kid I only thought about leaving, wanting to be somewhere else, to become something else. We spent afternoons escaping behind the grocery store or going down to the train tracks to smoke cigarettes away from the disapproving attentions of teachers. I buy groceries for my family at that same store these days. Now that it is home again, I can see that it has always shown its bruises, whether that is the evident inequality, a lack of identity, a crumbling infrastructure, or a young woman panhandling for change. It is a town in stasis, but I am part of it and it is a part of me’.
With the trope of ‘left behind’ USA now a familiar invocation, Meyer’s work offers a uniquely positioned assessment of this figurative non-place, tracing its connections to the particular people and topography of an individual town. In this way, the studied depiction of stark socio-economic realities effloresces into something more mythic but no less piercing. Meyer’s hometown becomes a many-layered, poetic, and often ghostly space, recalling T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and William Carlos Williams’ Paterson. As it moves between past and future, face and landscape, textural detail and vast tableau, Meyer’s shifting perspectives demand a reconsideration of what ‘local’ is: what makes a place a place within the homogenized landscape of postindustrial capital, and what attitude or degree of proximity might disclose it.
Nick Meyer (B.1981) lives and works in Western Massachusetts with his wife, dog and two young daughters. He is the recipient of the Pace Gallery Award and the Barclay Simpson Prize. In 2005 he earned his BFA at Massachusetts College of Art and his MFA from California College of the Arts in 2008. His project “Either Limits or Contradictions” (Published, Daylight 2017) has appeared in TIME Lightbox, Huck Magazine, Musee, L’oel De La Photographie and Ain’t-Bad. His work has been shown both nationally and internationally and is included in numerous private collections.
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