Epiphany Knedler is a chronicler of American life and political fanatic. Growing up in Vermillion, South Dakota, she found comfort in Midwestern aesthetics and small-town familiarity. She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a BFA in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Photography and a BA in Political Science. She strives to shed light on contemporary economic disparity through familiar environments. She is currently based in Greenville, North Carolina, pursuing an MFA in Photography at East Carolina University.
Illuminating Disparity: Economic Inequality in the Midwest
Illuminating Disparity: Economic Inequality in the Midwest examines the contemporary world through a socioeconomic lens. Wealth is increasingly tied to health, education, and opportunity in the United States. By using documentary photography, emphasis is placed on culture, values, and political issues in the context of the Midwest.
Economic inequality in America is at the highest point since before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. The existing wealth disparity leaves the top twenty percent holding eighty percent of the wealth while the bottom forty percent barely share a percentage point. Wealth is increasingly tied to health, education, and opportunity in the United States. Individuals will be unable to reach any form of economic stability and instead barely survive day to day. These statistics extend further than research but permeates every aspect of life. When born into one economic class it is nearly impossible to rise higher on the economic spectrum. These photographs capture facets of life affected by the economic sphere.
The topic of economic inequality is wholly personal. I became interested in the issue while pursuing my undergraduate career. In my middle-class family, I had a vague sense of the value of money. After attending an expensive university for my freshman year of college, I was left $40,000 in debt. These experiences have shaped my future and inspired my focus on economic inequality.
The focus of the Midwest is due to its subtle economic disparity. The area evokes thoughts of nostalgia, melancholy, and familiarity. While Midwestern economics is indicative of larger America. Since 1979, ninety-seven percent of all income growth in the Midwest occurred within the top one-percent. This class division is not obvious in the Midwest but these photographs pair these realities with the environment. The political and economic reality subtly infiltrates the composition. This photographic series is meant to shed light on disparity by creating a sense of instability in the viewer and provoking interest in a more equitable society.
To view more of Epiphany’s work please visit her website.