“To be a teenager is to be both beautiful and fragile simultaneously. Puberty engenders a radical physical transformation and psychological contradiction: it occasions the arrival of genital hair and breasts, stretching limbs and acne, coupled with ridiculous arrogance, identity confusion, sexual desire and colt-like beauty.
Adolescence is a unique period in one’s life in that the greater part of life is still to come and the sense of potential seems limitless. Yet, in actuality, every teen is grounded in the objective realities of family, race, gender, economics, and geography while managing the adolescent struggle with social anxiety, peer pressure and self-doubt. All of these forces create competing frames through which an adolescent must look in order to distill a self.
Adolescence is by definition a time of experimentation with fledgling identities that may or may not travel with us into adulthood. Minor Stories is my effort to illustrate the contemporary physical and psychological complexities of teenage experience in the United States. The teens photographed in Minor Stories range from the very privileged to those living in subsidized housing and are discovered in a variety of settings: from the alternately lush or denuded open spaces of rural landscapes, to the crowded domestic interiors and austere built environments of cities.
I am particularly interested in the way race and class entwine within a young person to delineate her horizons and the scope of things to come. One narrative strand of Minor Stories focuses on teen-age girls who live within a one-mile radius of one another in a highly gentrified area of Brooklyn, New York. While one set of girls attends a lockdown public school with weapon scanners at the entrance to the school, the other attends elite private schools. If we were to map the neighborhood at night, we would see the girls sleeping only blocks apart, perhaps dreaming similar dreams of limitless potential. The girls all walk the same sidewalks to school in the morning, but finally enter very different institutions in the effort to make their dreams a reality.”