Farewell, 2016 : an end of the year update / by Hannah Harley

I haven’t shared much since the election, which might surprising considering how rooted my most recent project was in the political world. It’s been an interesting couple months for us all, but now we’re faced with a new year and the possibility of making it a better one than the last.

I’ve found that through editing, the Home Front has taken on a very different meaning than I originally intended. I started off wanted to show campaign offices from both prominent parties, but I was denied access to the Trump campaign offices. To show Trump’s side, I photographed homemade signs of support, which dotted the western Pennsylvania countryside in the months leading to the election. It was striking to me because I had never seen so many makeshift and homemade signs of political support. While nearly everyone in New York was convinced of Hillary’s impressive poll numbers, it was clear that Trump’s message was being embraced in the rural community. And all it took was a drive out of the city to see that.

 Editing through images to make a cohesive body of work is an on going process. This one didn't fit into what I hoped to say with the work when I first saw it, but after the election, the work shifted. And now, this is one of my favorites.

Editing through images to make a cohesive body of work is an on going process. This one didn't fit into what I hoped to say with the work when I first saw it, but after the election, the work shifted. And now, this is one of my favorites.

Once Hillary lost the election, the images I had taken of her campaign offices acted as foreboding scenes, depicting a clearly struggling campaign. The way I had photographed these spaces showed an apocalyptic offices, void of people and hope. I couldn’t see it at the time, but it became undoubtedly obvious when she lost.

I showed my work at Parsons’ open studios and was encouraged by the public’s reaction to it. It was uplifting to present work that I was proud of and that started an interesting dialogue. I also presented my research notebook, which was an intense scrapbook of a methodical process of following the campaign and the odd stories that came out of it. I spent hours combing through weird articles that address issues like the interior decorations of the candidates’ homes or the fashionability of their daughters’ wedding dresses.

December marked the start of three long weeks of final critiques and presentations at Parsons. It was exciting, stressful, and exhausting, of course, but I love how critiques often reignites my fire for this artform.

I spent the holidays with my family in rural Pennsylvania, which was the best present I could’ve ever hoped for. A quiet and cozy ten days gave me a long break before addressing the ever present, ‘What comes next?’. Since I was photographing spaces that no longer serve that purpose and the election is over.. What happens now? Always a tricky step for creatives.. But an exciting one. Paraphrasing from my one professor, “A project has its peak potential before you begin it, which often makes people nervous to even take the first step.”

Here’s to new projects and new creations in the new year. And of course, to being a little kinder to everyone as we move forward together.