Julie Watko

University of Mount Union

One thing I have learned about art is that artists do not work to make things pretty; They are storytellers. I chose to be the storyteller of the buildings left to be forgotten. Last fall, I stumbled across the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. It was a prison for many years and has since been turned into a tourist attraction. Everything about the place was captivating to me. The walls were peeling with paint and the vacant cells had rust covering every inch. I loved trying to decipher the history that it held. Ever since that experience, I wanted to explore the idea of the places that the world is leaving behind. The world is moving fast and wants newer and better. We want to knock down old buildings to put up parking lots and malls to fuel our disposable, consumer lifestyle. As much as I love the world around me, I want to go back. I want to live in a world where stores were closed on Sundays, and where technology was not what our lives revolved around. I wanted to look for the places that the world is slowly leaving behind in our fast-pace culture. I wanted to find places that were not on display as tourist attractions, but the ones down the street from our houses. I looked for side streets, dead end roads and buildings that are isolated. I wanted to find the abandoned structures that the world no longer pays attention to. I tell their stories, not through words, but through photos of the scratches and dents left behind.

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