Andrew Borowiec

(American, b.1956; resides in Akron, OH)

In the wake of the 2004 presidential election Andrew Borowiec’s began The New Heartland, a long-term photographic investigation of Middle America’s landscape and the artist’s first project using color processes in place of black and white film. Borowiec had been contemplating the extent to which the Midwest had changed over the past couple of decades, both in terms of the scenery and cultural attitudes, and for him the election crystallized a deep and telling divide among the nation’s citizens. With an eye to how a landscape can reflect the beliefs and actions of its inhabitants, Borowiec began photographing a variety of locations in his resident Ohio with the intention of eventually expanding the project to neighboring states. The New Heartlanddraws together settings such as housing developments awaiting sod, outdoor shopping “villages,” flashy car dealerships, and more idiosyncratic expressions of an expanding material culture, such as a miniaturized drive-thru espresso bar built amid cornfields. These pictures speak to the propagation of certain patterns of consumption--clearly carried along on the power of individual desires and dreams, hints of which are found here--but the story that begins to develop in this project lies not so much in apparent stereotypes but in the more singular details. Borowiec himself has stated, “I hope that careful scrutiny of the pictures will reveal small, yet crucial details that serve to amplify, complicate and sometimes subvert their ostensible meanings.”

Borowiec received his BA in Russian from Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania (1979), and his MFA in Photography from Yale University (1982). He has received numerous grants and fellowships, including those from the National Endowment for the Arts (1985, 1988), the Guggenheim Foundation (1998), and the Ohio Arts Council (1988, 1998, 2001, and 2002). Solo exhibitions of his photographs have been held at Houston Center for Photography, Houston, Texas; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; and other institutions. His work is held in numerous public collections including the Art Institute of Chicago; Cleveland Museum of Art; Columbus Museum of Art; Houston Museum of Fine Arts; and Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Borowiec is Professor of Art at the Mary Schiller Myers School of Art, the University of Akron.

Past Portfolios

The Flats, the mill, and the hills is the working title for Borowiec's 2002 series made in the central districts of Cleveland, Ohio. When the George Gund Foundation commissioned Borowiec to photograph Cleveland's industrial landscape for their 2002 annual report, the photographer decided to go beyond the "Flats" along the city's Cuyahoga River and dramatically expand the scope of the project. He went on to photograph in Slavic Village, Tremont, and Ohio City, the blue collar neighborhoods that developed along the slopes of Cleveland's central industrial valley, and the former LTV steel mill, a site that for decades was the hub of Cleveland's economy and still takes up six hundred acres of downtown.

During the summer of 1986, Borowiec discovered the Ohio River Valley, a Midwestern landscape whose history is imbued with the cultural and life-style implications of industrialization, both failed and thriving. Satellite dishes, manicured lawns, oil drums, and neglected backyard swimming pools are rendered with care, a critical neutrality, and show the hope of reclaiming an area abandoned by big business. From its formation by glaciers to its current identity as the "rustbelt," Borowiec's Ohio River Valley has been defined by the usage of its human inhabitants.