Ennis, 2007 © Will Steacy
Ennis, 2007

Will Steacy’s photography begins in the details. He looks closely at the pieces that make up the places where people live or have lived, and he is intensely interested in how this evidence describes a distance between hope and reality.  These observations accumulate to make a larger case about this gap, which we can call disappointment, or disillusionment: a story of entire communities and of the path of the United States as a whole.  Steacy’s reference points are Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Springsteen’s music – The Ghost of Tom Joad, Wrecking Ball – as well as Homer’s Odyssey.  These are stories of struggles in the face of corruption by power and greed, betrayal of trust, a journey of no return, and broken promises.

Down These Mean Streets, 2012 (detail)
Down These Mean Streets, 2012 (detail)

Steacy has incorporated photographs from his series Down These Mean Streets into a 170 foot long, two-foot high collage, which he calls “The Beast”.  The argument made by the collage is closely related to the one made by his photographs, but the collage works at a different scale, pace, and intensity.  Steacy’s photographs form a visual rhythm within the massive collage, alongside his writings, clippings from newspapers, magazines and comic books, lighters and coins.  As with his photography, he has selected specific details to hold to the light and scrutinize, to great combined effect. The photographs and writings describe his vision of the USA today, intertwined with the found imagery and text which allow him many voicings: descriptive, declamatory, ironic.  The collage begins by laying out a history, identifying key moments and turning points in US history, and over the course of 110 panels his critique unfolds.  From the post-war promise of prosperity, to Reagan-era deregulation, to the 9/11 attacks, to the financial crisis and Great Recession, Steacy shows us what happened to the American Dream. The work is extraordinarily powerful: it can be digested as a flow, as a visual and text dialogue in a section, and in the detail of a particular visual or textual exposition.  It blows wide open the possibilities of words and pictures working together.

Will Steacy with Down These Mean Streets, 2012, at Silver Eye Center for Photography

Steacy’s Down These Mean Streets collage is on display at the Silver Eye Center for Photography in Pittsburgh, PA as part of the exhibit No Job, No Home, No Peace, No Rest: An Installation by Will Steacy. The exhibition also includes 32 photographs by Steacy, many of which have never been displayed before.  Opening is Friday September 14 at 6:30pm. Steacy will also be speaking at Spaces Corners bookstore in Pittsburgh tonight, September 12, at 7:00pm.  Down These Mean Streets will be published by B Frank this fall.

Leo Hsu
Exhibition co-curator with Ellen Fleurov, Executive Director, SECP


No Job, No Home, No Peace, No Rest: An Installation by Will Steacy

September 14- December 15, 2012

Silver Eye Center for Photography

1015 East Carson Street

Pittsburgh PA 15203


Gallery talk with Will Steacy and Ellen Fleurov and Opening

September 14, 2012, 6:30pm


A Conversation with Will Steacy

Wednesday September 12, 2012, 7pm

Spaces Corners

3803 Butler Street

Pittsburgh PA 15201