Jeffrey Wolin took the Indiana neighborhood of Pigeon Hill and turned it inside out for all to see. Transfixed by the characters in this impoverished neighborhood in the housing projects of Bloomington, Ind., he photographed them from 1987 to 1991. Their mullets and blowouts, incomparable. Many hold in their eyes the clarity and rawness of youth.
Seven years ago, Wolin came across a story about a young woman who was murdered, and he recognized her as one his subjects. It made him wonder what had happened to all of them, and he set out to track them down.
His method was completely unscientific: He walked around the neighborhood, asking whether anyone knew the people in his photos. “Eventually I found one of the people I had photographed years ago — it was eerie and thrilling to finally come face to face with someone I had photographed many times in the distant past and to see how her face had changed from a teenager to that of a grown woman over the course of time,” he wrote in his book, “Pigeon Hill: Then & Now” (Kehrer, 2016).
In some pairings, the “then” and “now” photos play foil to each other. Others tell a story of progression. “I was only four when I saw my first stabbing … I knew I had to be tough just to survive on the Hill,” Wolin’s subject Wendy told him. Years later, she has become a water-quality engineer who drag races on the weekends.
Wolin wrote, “One can see the effects of the passing of time and the ways in which life’s experiences (good and bad) are written into these open and expressive faces.”
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