Romanticized versions of history not only influence the way we look back, they play a prominent role in determining one’s perception of the present.
Exploring the more idealized parts of American culture, this body of work seeks to look at the way past traditions are moved into modernity. In doing so, I strive to redefine the notion of patriotism and question how these traditions will continue to develop during a more divisive age.
Focusing on symbols and issues that have plagued the U.S. since its earliest days, this work exemplifies the changing state of patriotism in America. There are people who cling to and glorify the traditions of the past, surrounded by a society screaming for change. Re-enactors present living histories on notorious battlegrounds in an attempt to keep vital moments of the past alive. At the same moment, people are taking to the streets, demanding action and spreading new messages, looking to create progress for a better world. As we try to figure out who our American heroes truly are, protestors are subjected to praise and scrutiny, while sculptures and monuments are built and destroyed.
While investigating the state of these changing ideas, it is important to consider the role that education, upbringing, and class status play in the development of one’s political and social beliefs. In doing so, these images work to demonstrate how an individual’s previously held beliefs and experiences change the way these images, and the actions they depict, are read. We can only take what we put into an image, and that always leaves us looking at the world a certain way.
How Will We Stand urges people to understand the world outside of themselves. It calls into question the past, present, and future of our nation, forcing us to critically consider how we are meant to reconstruct the understanding of our history in a way that helps us productively work towards the future.
About Stefani Reynolds
Stefani Reynolds is a writer and documentary photographer whose work seeks to address prominent issues within the American landscape, including poverty, homelessness, and gentrification. Recently, she has combined her passions for history and journalism, working to recontextualize historically romanticized aspects of American culture through the lens of current politics. Born in Syracuse, New York, Reynolds graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Photography in 2018. [Official Website]