It Is What It Is - PhMuseum

It Is What It Is

Jordan Gale

2015 - Ongoing

Iowa, United States

A January wind swept through the barren cornfields, picking up loose snow from the morning storm and drifting onto the black dirt road. The snow whipped in the air, turning the road into a mixture of white and abstracted black from the farmhouse at the end of the horizon. The wind quickly settled and the grey sky divided from mud soaked snow. In Iowa, winter temperatures can dip to below -20 celsius midday. Inside the pickup truck, us five kids huddled together, laughing at our drunken actions from the night before as we drove back into town. Nine years later and a Midwest winter still feels the same. The same bone-shattering cold. The faces are the same too, but frostbitten and tired. A presence of stagnancy has weathered the bodies more so than the cold.

I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; the only child to a single mother with no family of her own. My upbringing in Iowa, is a nuanced history touched by substance abuse and economic instability. At 16 I turned to drugs as a way to make money. I quickly started using. Like so many of my loved ones, I used drugs and alcohol as an escape from daily life.

This project, titled It Is What It Is, acts as a visual diary where I explore the relationships that have made me who I am today. With photography I examine concepts such as home and isolation, while confronting a past of dependency and resentment.

Through my personal narrative I aim to create a portrait of youth and decrepitude, addiction and recovery, all coexisting in a small part of the Midwest region where resources are scarce and dreams are too often left behind due to life circumstances.

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  • Back road after a rain storm. Linn County, Iowa. 2018

  • Rob and Logan in back of the pickup truck. Linn County, Iowa. 2019

  • Logan looking into a pipe used to smoke methamphetamine. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2018

  • Anna asleep in a friend's bed. Iowa City, Iowa. 2016

  • Jack's reflection through a mirror. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2018

  • Tyler posing with a gun. Iowa City, Iowa. 2016

  • Myles at a farmhouse party. Johnson County, Iowa. 2017

  • Cocaine at an after party. Iowa City, Iowa. 2017

  • Cody unconscious after a bar fight. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2018

  • Stray cat. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2018

  • Will and Jon kissing. Iowa City, Iowa. 2018

  • Party bus outside Bricks pub. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2018

  • Dalton gripping a chain link fence. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2016

  • Eileen and Randy outside The Green Gable Tavern. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2018

  • Sunset over a cornfield. Linn County, Iowa. 2018

  • Millette and her grandchildren Anthony and Alanna. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2018

  • Quaker Oats Factory. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2015

  • Smoking methamphetamine off tinfoil. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2016

  • Lynne and Millette eating dinner. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 2018

  • Snow covered back roads. Linn County, Iowa. 2019