Twice a month, John Francis Peters talks to image-makers about their long-term projects and how they approach their work and subjects. This week he talks with FADER #72 photographer Ross Mantle about his project “In the Wake of an American Dream.”
What drew you to this project?
I moved back to Pittsburgh in early 2009 after I finished school because I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I’d been thinking about starting this project for a while. My mom is from McKeesport it’s this town outside of Pittsburgh, eight miles or so downriver. It used to be its own city away from Pittsburgh, fuckin’ big, 60,000 people or so, but now it’s like 20,000. I’d go there with her because my grandmother was still there and my uncle and his family still live there. She had Alzheimer’s, so we moved her down to West Virginia with my uncle in June of that year. All through my teen years there was always family around, my grandmother and cousins or sometimes we’d go to my mom’s friend’s house down the street. When I was a kid, my parents had opened a bike shop nearby in Little Boston, the next town over, so I was there all the time growing up too. I don’t remember the mills going. But now they’re gone, everything is gone, there’s really nothing left. My mom, in the town that she grew up in, would lock the car doors when we were going down the street. I’d always laugh at her, but I understand now, it’s kind of a sketchy place.