Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Britten Traughber: Hawaii Beyond The Postcards

Local Ads, 2010; Britten Traughber

Photographer Britten Traughber was born and raised on the plains of Central Illinois, though her current work has placed her in a locale thousands of miles from that landscape. Traughber, who studied with Rhondal McKinney at the MFA progam at Illinois State University and has created a series of extraordinary projects in this region, has turned her eye to a part of the world that some folks from Lincoln's Land escape to during the winter months: the islands of Hawaii. 

Britten Traughber's mission of uncovering the story of cultural and economic shifts beneath the romanticized vision of the Hawaii has recently received generous coverage in Terrain: A journal of the Built and Natural Environments. The photographs from her Hawaiian Paradise Park series foreground a sense of transition, a quality of standing in a temporal space at once indebted to the past and suggestive of a radically changed future. This shared rural condition is also brought to light in her series of photographs from Moweaqua, Illinois.

Here's the introduction to her feature in Terrain. Please find larger, high-resolution images by following the the links above:
On the rainy eastern side of the Big Island of Hawai‘i, the cycles of destruction and regeneration in Hawaiian Paradise Park (what locals refer to as HPP) are impossible to ignore, almost like watching a time-lapse video on fast forward.

Physically, economically, and culturally, the forces of change in such a raw environment always remind you: this land, the sacred ‘aina, will reclaim itself—from the lava below to the invasive Albezia trees above, from the rust and mold to the vigorous growth of plant life—it’s a matter of when, not if.

Said to be the second largest subdivision in the United States, HPP sits on over four square miles with more than 8,800 one-acre lots, though only around half of the land is actually developed. Given that scope, just exploring this neighborhood has been a fascinating study in the unique qualities of island living. This is not the postcard paradise you see in travel brochures. That’s part of what makes it so interesting to live here.

Britten Traughber has also sought to engage on a local level through the creation of RIPE "a collaborative community project of interviews and photographs based on the real stories of real women, living in the REAL Hawaii. Through interviews, talk story sessions, dinners, emails and chance encounters, our experiences are being shared and documented - showing the reality that being female in Paradise is not what it seems." Folks can join the conversation here