Youth is universal, yet the experience of adolescence is different from person to person. Coming of age—the search of self and tribe—is confusing, complicated and trying. For this reason, the journey has been heavily documented in photography. For example, photographers as diverse as Wolfgang Tillmans, Larry Clark and Adrienne Salinger have focused on specific subcultures and documented the lives of youths categorized by subcultures. While subcultures still exist today, they have become more complex with easy access to ideas and information. The defining characteristics of how these subcultures express themselves through dress, music taste, beliefs, and mannerisms have started to change and evolve. As a result, we have access to images of specific subcultures define in well-known places, but few photographic series documenting the everyday young person. Especially in the South.
Youth Expressions is a series of images featuring young people from the ages of 18–25 who are coming of age in Birmingham, Alabama. Change happening in Birmingham is evident in almost every aspect of the city from the influx of small businesses to acquiring our own professional soccer team, but most excitingly in the community of adolescents and young adults. Birmingham’s youth are actively creating spaces for young artists to thrive in, which in turn is making Birmingham a cosmopolitan center for art and culture. Because the South is viewed as a place of racial and political unrest, the subject of youth experience has been overlooked here. What I hope to highlight is how the lines between certain groups are becoming more fluid through collective consciousness, identity, and individuality. Youth Expressions discloses the dissolving of these borders.
Youth Expressions was exhibited in Sella-Granata Art Gallery in Tuscaloosa, Alabama from November 19 - 29