Untitled (from Beckon Us from Home)
July 6, 2017
Watford, North Dakota
Image © Sarah Blesener
Curtis, Kate, and Jude, all of whom are homeschooled, lay in their backyard on a hot, dry, summer afternoon. Western North Dakota attracted families from across the nation during the recent oil boom. For their family it was more than the oil industry; “We came here to be isolated. I wanted to build a home that looked like an old prairie schoolhouse- minimal, white, nostalgic. We dream of the past the way some people dream of the future.” Watford, like other rural towns in the region, is now facing unemployment and overdevelopment since the decline of the oil industry.
“I am interested in how beliefs are formed at a young age, how young people identify in their political atmosphere and how it shapes them as individuals.”
Sarah Blesener is a documentary photographer based in New York City. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she studied Linguistics and Youth Development at North Central University. While in University, she worked as a photographer for the organization Healing Haiti based in Port au Prince, Haiti, covering events surrounding the 2010 earthquake. Upon graduation in 2012, she studied at Bookvar Russian Academy in Minneapolis, concentrating on the Russian language. She is a graduate of the Visual Journalism and Documentary Practice program at the International Center of Photography in New York. She was awarded the W. Eugene Smith 2018 Fellowship, an Alexia 2017 Professional Grant, and a 2017 Catchlight Fellowship, In 2019, she was awarded the 2019 World Press Photo Contest’s Long-Term Projects category for “Beckon Us From Home.
Her ongoing work examines the interplay of religion, love of country, and military-style training in the teaching of ‘New Americanism’ amongst youth. In patriot camps and clubs around the United States, roughly 400,000 children are taught annually, often with military subtext, what it means to be an American. Here, in this microcosm of a changing nation, youth straddle the vulnerability of adolescence and the simultaneous stripping of individuality.
Photos are museum quality, archival prints — printed by Digital Silver Imaging on Canson® Infinity Platine Fibre Rag Satin paper. Photographs will be shipped within four weeks of purchase, along with certificates of authentication from Digital SIlver Imaging and Canson Infinity.
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