The New Heartland

Looking for the American Dream

Andrew Borowiec, David Giffels, Eric Paddock

There is a new heartland, representing a new American dream, and it can be found in the new residential and commercial landscapes of Ohio and the rest of America, if we choose to open our eyes and take a look.
Date Published :
August 2021
Publisher :
George F Thompson Publishing
Illustration :
67 color plates
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781938086199
Pages : 96
Dimensions : 9.8 X 11.9 inches
Stock Status : In stock


There is a new heartland, representing a new American dream, and it can be found in the new residential and commercial landscapes of Ohio and the rest of America, if we choose to open our eyes and take a look.

During the past thirty years, there has emerged throughout America a new kind of urban vision that blends residential/suburban development with large-scale commercial centers. Rolling farmland and country estates that used to surround towns and cities have given way to vast housing developments that feature nearly identical, hastily built mini-mansions with enormous garages and fancy yards. These are the new bedroom communities for middle-class Americans who commute to urban America where the jobs are.

For the first time, these residential enclaves are linked to big-box shopping complexes where traditional Main Streets of yore have been eclipsed by malls known as “lifestyle centers” filled with national chains whose commercial architecture is a blend of multiple historic periods and styles that create a fanciful display but have no relation to regional traditions. Behind this imagined past era of luxurious consumerism is a ubiquitous culture based on global marketing in which homogenization and conformity have won over the American dream and created a new kind of American heartland.

Andrew Borowiec is the first photographer to provide a comprehensive vision of this new American landscape. He directs our attention toward how such development has evolved in his home state of Ohio, a longstanding bellwether for American tastes and values whose citizens have voted for every winning candidate in a presidential election but one since 1944. It's also the place where fast-food companies test-market new products and the place where chewing gum, Teflon, and the first airplane, cash register, gas-powered automobile, traffic signal, and vacuum cleaner were invented. Even the state's Division of Travel and Tourism has long relied on “Ohio, the Heart of It All” as its popular motto to attract visitors to the state.

Andrew Borowiec's work follows in the tradition of other legendary photographers who so keenly interpreted land and life in America—among them Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Robert Adams, Frank Gohlke, and other New Topographics photographers. He has used his keen eye and extensive fieldwork to give us a fresh, humorous, and razor-sharp view of what is happening in America today. There is a new heartland, representing a new American dream, and it can be found in the new residential and commercial landscapes of Ohio and the rest of America, if we choose to open our eyes and take a look.

About The Author

Andrew Borowiec is Distinguished Professor of Art Emeritus at the University of Akron who has received fellowships in photography from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Ohio Arts Council. For more than three decades, he has photographed America’s changing social, industrial, and post-industrial landscapes. His photographs have been exhibited around the world and are in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cleveland Museum of Art, Library of Congress, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Princeton University Art Museum, and Smithsonian Museum of American Art, among others. His other books of photography include Wheeling, West Virginia (Camera Infinita, 2018), Cleveland: The Flats, the Mill, and the Hills (Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago, 2008), Industrial Perspective: Photographs of the Gulf Coast (Center for American Places, 2005), and Along the Ohio (John Hopkins University Press, in association with the Center for American Places, 2000).

David Giffels was a longtime columnist for The Akron Beacon Journal before joining the faculty of the University of Akron, where he is Associate Professor of English. His essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Grantland, New York Times Magazine, and Wall Street Journal, among many other publications, and he was a writer for the popular MTV series, Beavis and Butt-Head. Giffels’s other books include the acclaimed Furnishing Eternity: A Father, a Son, a Coffin, and a Measure of Life (Scribner, 2018), The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt (Scribner, 2014), All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House (William Morrow/Harper Collins, 2008), Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! (SAF Publishing, 2003), with Jade Dellinger, and Wheels of Fortune: The Story of Rubber in Akron (University of Akron Press, 1998), with Steve Love.

ERIC PADDOCK since 2008, has been Curator of Photography at the Denver Art Museum, where he has organized solo exhibitions by Edward Ranney, Robert Benjamin, Garry Winogrand, Laura Letinsky, and Chuck Forsman, among others. From 1982 to 2008 he was Curator of Photography and Film at the Colorado Historical Society, where he curated more than two dozen exhibitions of seminal historical photographs. He is the author of Belonging to the West, and his photographs are held in the permanent collections of the Amon Carter Museum, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Smithsonian American Art Museum.


"The New Heartland recalls other landmark books in the history of photography. Robert Adams's The New West (1973) leaps to mind, because Borowiec's title echoes that of the earlier book and because both books wrestle with dichotomies: myth and reality, beauty and ugliness, gross social trends and real needs of ordinary people. Together, these two books demonstrate that the issues they address, however specific and local they may seem in the pictures, are as universal as they are persistent... The New Heartland gives us a fresh look at American culture that partakes in an important artistic tradition."

- Eric Paddock, Curator of Photography, Denver Art Museum, and author of Belonging to the West

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