I am tied up in a love-hate relationship with the American landscape and civilization. Middletown represents a country where Walmart is the institution that best symbolizes its identity.

Middletown is the coal-dusted faces as they look at me, smoking cigarettes, and ask if I work for the government as they burn down their house so they won’t have to pay taxes on it any longer. Middletown is the grandma who puts the delicate imported Ecuadorian rose in the fridge next to the half and half so it lasts just a few days longer. Middletown is small-town America under the cold fluorescent tubes of the box store that keeps the myth of the five-and-dime alive while co-opting it. Middletown is sweet, and it is sour. This work is a mix of melancholy and desperate hope and aims to capture an abstraction in close proximity to a reality. I portray the situations and objects that I encounter in my travels through middle America honestly, leaving the viewer to endow them with deeper meaning. Middletown is a continuation of my exploration into the cracks on the surface of the American Dream.

—Baldomero Fernandez

PHOTO Essay BY Baldomero Fernandez.