The landscape... seems more of a set of conditions, a location where things and events might transpire rather than a given thing or event in itself; an area or circumstance within which an open set of possibilities might be induced to play themselves out.- Lewis Baltz


Common Divides is compiled of a series of images taken in Bristol, PA. My family and I have lived in Bristol for over five years. Although Bristol, a historically blue-collar town, is a diverse community in terms of race, nationality, religion, and income, there is an overall sense of pride and patriotism not unlike what one might experience in quintessential small-town America.


I began this project in order to make sense of the culture and landscape that surrounds me. In doing so, I focused on a variety of subjects that include people, landscapes, and objects placed within the landscape. My goal was to depict the physical and metaphorical commonalities and divisions that are either implicitly created or purposefully imposed.


Throughout this series, the familiar, plastic discount-store chairs that dot lawns and clutter porches are anthropomorphized into symbolic stand-ins for social behavior, family dynamics, and territorial markings. Religious iconography, once proudly placed on lawns or porches as a badge of devotion, now serve their duty without much upkeep or notice. Statues of saints and of the Virgin Mary blend awkwardly into the landscape as reminders of profound faith and nonsensical irony. While photographing people around Bristol, especially at community events, I often feel as if my town is a large stage built to frame interactions between a cast of characters who, for the most part, are strangers to me but with whom I sense a bond by dint of the town we share in common. It is this bond, often more tenuous than not, that drives these images and my search for what defines a community.


Danielle Picard-Sheehan