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Eric T. Kunsman

Photo-artist Eric T. Kunsman, working in the tradition of Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, makes similarly dramatic, long-scale photographs of payphones, clearly demonstrating that snippets of urban landscape can be as moving and meaningful as fine art as his masters' images of the natural landscape. Kunsman's "street" photos of Rochester, New York, are not candids shot from the hip; they are planned and produced with the same focus and form, care and craft as Weston's Big Sur and Adams' Yosemite. Although these photos are gorgeously-realized, technically-perfect visual art, they form an equally-careful sociological study of a city, privilege and prejudice, and life in its “bad” neighborhoods.  Warned that his new neighborhood was dangerous and crime-infested because it had “payphones everywhere”, Eric researched to find facts and, in the process, documented a bleak urban landscape and a very surprising gesture by Frontier Communications to spare profits to serve people in need. 


"I am always attracted to objects left behind, especially those that hint at a unique human narrative, a story waiting to be told. Although there’s no “given” formula for what demands my focus as a photographer, I was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and, in high school, I was heavily influenced by the death of the steel industry and its place in American history. I’m as drawn to the landscapes and neglected towns of the American southwest as I am to the tensions of struggling rustbelt cities in the U.S. northeast. These relics, Rochester's payphones, hiding in plain sight, tell a much different story than most would expect.  Although many people think of payphones as signifiers of crime, drug traffic in particular, they are actually a vital lifeline for people who do not have a cell phone and who may not have a permanent address."

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