Keith Yahrling is a photographer currently living and working in Providence, Rhode Island. He is a 2013 MFA in photography candidate at the Rhode Island School of Design and has plans to relocate to his native city, Philadelphia, this July. He has recently exhibited work at the Siskind Gallery at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, the Sol Koffler Gallery in Providence, Rhode Island and is scheduled to participate in a group show at Clampart in Chelsea this July. He was recently awarded a Graduate Studies Grant that will allow him to pursue his current body of work, For the Revolution, as well as a National Conference Student Award from the Society for Photographic Education and the T.C. Colley Scholarship for Excellence in Photography.
For the Revolution
The boundary of the United States of America’s original thirteen colonies encompasses roughly the country’s entire eastern coast—from Maine to Georgia and from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains. It is within this historically significant boundary that the American Revolution was staged and is the area of concentration for my project, For the Revolution. During this significant moment, the great majority of people were awakening to their natural born rights of liberty and freedom. However, these ideals are complex and their definitions depend on the circumstances of the individual. Because of this, the history of our democracy has been a contest between different individuals striving to define their freedom. My photographs look to illustrate the ways that Americans currently define their individual notions of freedom and the impact their decisions have on the contemporary landscape.
I was raised in the small town of National Park, which sits along the banks of the Delaware River in Southern New Jersey and is contained within the boundaries of the colonies. National Park’s only notable landmark, the Red Bank Battlefield Park, still contains the trenches of Fort Mercer. A bloody battle was waged here during the Revolution and as a child, I frequently explored these grounds. Similar to the landscapes that I explore, my father’s history and memory have been profoundly shaped by war. As a veteran of the Vietnam War, the experience has deeply penetrated his psyche, but he rarely speaks about his tour of duty. My father’s inability to speak of his experience in Vietnam and my childhood explorations of Fort Mercer have left me with many questions about how freedom is defined. From those unanswered questions, an intense curiosity has grown to understand how ideals of freedom function in our American landscape. My pilgrimage through America’s original thirteen colonies represents both a desire to understand the democratic roots of my country and my own personal heritage, because the two are inseparable from each other.
To see more of Keith’s work, please visit his website.