Collier Heights, an artist book, documents an area just 5 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta, Georgia. From the neighborhood’s inception when there were few choices of where African-Americans could settle, to the present when it is recognized for its historic architecture, the neighborhood has been productive in the economy of Atlanta and instrumental to the Civil Rights movement since the mid 1950s.
Using the power of history to shape culture and social action, the book uses archival material, interviews, and photographs to explore the interconnected lives of the citizens of the Collier Heights community. Pairing owners with their houses and intimate possessions emphasizes the idea of home and financial freedom. The common architecture and numerous portraits show just how tight knit this community was and still is. The personal stories paired with portraits bring to life a time that seems distant yet not so far from the truth today – the story of the importance of community to build a better life for oneself and one’s children.
As the photographs explore elaborate mid-century modern architecture, the intimacy of the author’s experience in working in the neighborhood unfolds as intricate interiors are revealed. Being faced with the opposition and distrust as an outsider, connections to the residents were difficult to gain but worth the effort. Taken between 2010 and 2014, the portraits pay tribute to Bill Owens’ “Suburbia” and portray the pride of middle class Americans in front of their homes, their possessions. Similar to Henry Horenstein preserving a vanishing culture in “Honky-Tonk”, I look to preserve a certain time in history while the neighborhood is transforming itself.