These photos are from my ongoing project, “Shadows of Industrialization.” The project explores the effects of deindustrialization on Milwaukee’s workers, families, and neighborhoods. In the decades following World War 2, Milwaukee’s manufacturing industries fueled the city’s rise as an economic powerhouse and vibrant middle-class community. But in the 1970s and 1980s, jobs were shipped to low wage plants and factories that had employed thousands of workers soon disappeared. Throughout the city, manufacturing plants were replaced with strip malls, parking lots and fast-foot restaurants. Family-supporting union jobs were replaced with minimum wage, part-time jobs.
These portraits are of now-retired workers, taken at the industrial locations where they once worked. Audio interviews are also available to accompany the portraits. For more than four decades, I have been a writer and editor and, more recently, a photographer and audio producer. I grew up in Milwaukee and am currently enrolled in the Master of Arts program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.