Samantha VanDeman: Died Alone
Samantha VanDeman continues her exploration of abandoned spaces with a new series, Died Alone, that examines environments where people spent their last days on earth. It’s a sad, compelling look at how some people finish their lives.
Born in 1982, Samantha grew up in Chicago. She studied fine arts at Columbia College Chicago, receiving a BFA in 2005. In 2009, she earned an MFA in photography from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University.
Samantha has exhibited and published her work internationally. Her work has been exhibited at Photo Lux Festival, Lucca, Italy; CPW, Woodstock, NY; Wall Space Gallery, Santa Monica, CA; The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO; Newspace, Portland, OR; Houston Center for Photography and Emory Visual Arts Gallery, Atlanta, GA. Samantha has been published in Flash Forward, Shots Magazine, International Photography Annual and The Photo Review.
During the summer of 2012, I started photographing abandoned homes throughout rural Illinois and Wisconsin. I became intrigued by how many valuables, photos, and objects had been left behind in each home. The more homes I found, the more I wanted to figure out why these homes were abandoned. I started talking to neighbors and found out elderly had died in these spaces. What shocked me the most was the fact no children had come to claim their parents’ valuables. Pictures, letters, and valuables were all left to rot in these homes. A lot of the time clothes still hung in the closet and dishes were still in the sink. With no one to claim the properties, most end up being owned by the state and sit vacant for many years before they are demolished. By taking photographs of these living spaces, I hope to bring life back into these spaces that society has forgotten about.
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