My "Simple Life" portfolio photographically explores the "Old Order" Mennonite and Amish cultures. I am intrigued and in many ways envious of the simplicity of their lifestyle. Through strong devotion to family, faith, and their farms, generation after generation continue to thrive in a mostly segregated society. Over the past century their lifestyle has seen only minimal change. In contrast, the "Outside World" has experienced rapid change, with increasing demands on technology.
This project has inspired me to delve beneath the surface and get "inside" my subjects. In doing so I interpret what I see from a deeper perspective. This connection enables me to capture not only the appearance, but also the spirit of this ethically and morally rich culture. It gets me beyond the ordinary to what is extraordinary and unique about them. As I began this project I quickly realized that this culture thinks in terms of "We", not "I". They eat together, work together, and sing together. They share a genuine responsibility to their families and the community.
It is my intent to afford this culture the dignity and respect they deserve. Therefore, when making images of these special people, I strive to present them with elegant simplicity and truth. Within them is a glowing sense of self pride and contentment that I hope is preserved in these photographs. With this direct and honest approach, I explore life and the underlying meaning of humanity.
As an artist I feel a special relevancy between the current challenging times Americans are experiencing, and my choice to study the Amish and Mennonite Cultures. As this portfolio evolves, I continue to search for meaning in "modern society". I can't help but wonder what have we achieved, at what cost, and what has been lost?? "The Simple People" challenge me to re-evaluate "modern society's" values as well as my own...