America in a Trance

For his latest project “America in a Trance”, Niko J. Kallianiotis investigates and responds as he travels through towns and cities across the state of Pennsylvania, a once prosperous and vibrant region where the notion of small town values and sustainable small businesses thrived under the sheltered wings of American Industry.

A mode to promote American values, industrialism provided a place where immigrants from tattered European countries crossed the Atlantic for a better future.

An immigrant and naturalized citizen himself, he had always perceived the U.S. differently, mostly from the big screen Hollywood experience and the adventures of “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man”. Traveling across Pennsylvania, he imagines these towns as vibrant communities looking towards the hot stacks and brick factories; a past where prosperity was possible on the local scale, and the streets and storefronts were bustling. The bitter irony of towns once so self-sufficient, which contributed to the bottom line of American industrial empire lay in rust, turned into casinos, or simply left to go forgotten with the exception of the hearty locals that soldier on. They became prey to colossal franchise companies, which are accepted as the norm, providing them “quality” goods and allowing no opportunities beyond minimal pay. Services for the residents are offered ubiquitously, but local employment, scant.  This project is an ongoing observation of the fading American dream so typified in the northeastern Pennsylvania landscape but widespread across the United States.

His subject choices derive from intuition and the desire to explore the unknown and rediscover the familiar. Through form, light, and color, he lets his work develop organically, and become a commentary of place and also of self. The hues work as the constituent of hope, not doom. The work is a product of love, for both the state and country he’s called home for the last two decades. While his interest is not in the depiction of desolation, at times it becomes necessary to the narrative. He searches for images that reflect, question, and interpret life in the towns and cities across the Keystone State, and the yearning for survival and cultural perseverance. His interest is in the vernacular and the inconsequential, that which becomes metaphorical and a connotation to a personal visual anthology for the photographer as well as the viewer.

About the author:
Niko J. Kallianiotis was born in 1973 in Greece. He lives and works as an educator and photographer in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He holds a BFA and MA from Marywood University, and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts. He is currently teaching a variety of courses at Marywood University in Scranton, PA, and at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He is a member of and a contributing photographer for The New York Times.

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