Scott Stazzante “Common Ground” review

By: Hannah Tetzlaff 

On the night of Sept. 11, Scott Strazzante ’86, gave an artist talk on his photographic exhibit, Common Ground, which will be at Caestecker Gallery until Oct. 11.

Common Ground was an eight year project that started in 1994, when Strazzante began documenting the life of Jean and Harlow Cagwin, an elderly couple who farmed close to a city. As time went on and their health worsened, the Cagwins realized it was time to let the farm go. So, they sold it to developers who erected a subdivision.

Strazzante later found a family, the Grabenhofers, who ended up living in a house in the subdivision that was developed on land previously owned by the Cagwin’s. Strazzante picked up the project again and started documenting the everyday life of the Grabenhofers.

During the process of photographing the Grabenhofers, Strazzante realized that there were many similarities between their way of life, and that of the Cagwins. Even though the suburban life and farm life are constantly viewed as being at odds with each other, Strazzante found the common ground between the two and therefore based his show on “how we are more similar than different.”

When viewing the exhibit, you will notice two photographs side-by-side in some of the frames. These are diptychs, meaning they are two photographs used in storytelling that are polar opposites.

Scott Strazzante used the diptychs in such a way that they conveyed how suburban life and farm life are actually quite similar. On closer inspection, you will also notice the vibrant colors that saturate the photographs and the clarity that poignantly tells the story.

This is an exhibit that you should definitely clear your busy schedule to see.