Our Neighborhood

The series Our Neighborhood juxtaposes sites of residential life in cities and towns across the US from Texas to Pennsylvania, with the infrastructure of the petrochemical industry.
If your house is near an oil or gas well, a power plant or a refinery, you hear it, you smell it, you know it is dangerous. It is however familiar. You are used to it. You accept it because either you have no choice or it is your best choice. Either your grandparents built the house when they immigrated from Poland or Mexico or this neighborhood is actually better than some others you can afford. The sign “Poison Gas” somehow does not mean what it says and you put it out of your mind. You are resigned to the dangers that threaten your future in exchange for a feeling of normalcy, for convenience, for having a roof over your head right now. We Americans all live in this house. This is our neighborhood, our home. Due to innovations in hydraulic fracturing, the US is now the largest global producer of oil and gas, surpassing both Saudi Arabia and Russia, at over 13 million barrels per day. The oil and gas business represents about 8% of US GDP with over 10 million employees. At the same time, the burning of fossil fuel is threatening to destroy life as we know it. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report in 2018 stating that the global temperature will rise 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit over pre-industrial levels by 2040, causing calamitous worldwide damage. The need to reduce CO2 emissions is on a direct collision course with the expanding US oil and gas industry and its stake in the US economy. While every single one of us emits around 15 metric tons of CO2 annually and uses alkanes, alkenes, naphthenes, benzene, butadiene, polypropylene, polystyrene daily, the enormous infrastructure needed to extract, transport, and process these petrochemicals is often easily overlooked.
Each image in Our Neighborhood creates a visual metaphor of what we all are living with, what we take for granted, and to what we have become desensitized. Looking at the world we have created, without blinking, challenges resignation to the status quo and climate change. It is a step towards action.


About Robin Michals
Robin Michals is a photographer whose work explores the impact of environmental issues on local communities. Her most recent work, the series Our Neighborhood juxtaposes sites of residential life in cities and towns across the US with the infrastructure of the petrochemical industry. In a challenge to the status quo, each image in Our Neighborhood creates a visual metaphor for what Americans live with and have accepted in exchange for comfort and convenience. Images from Our Neighborhood are part of the 8th Edition of THE FENCE in 2019-2020, a public art installation in 8 North American cities and in group shows at David Orton Gallery, the Texas Photographic Society, and in the online photography magazines F-Stop and Float. The series was selected for Critical Mass Top 50 in 2019. Since 2010, Michals has been developing Castles Made of Sand, a long-term documentation of the low-lying communities around New York City that are being impacted by sea level rise. Oakwood Beach records the slow dismantlement of a neighborhood in Staten Island, NY after it was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. Images from these two series have been seen at St. Peter’s Church, the Alice Austen House, the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the Davis Orton Gallery among other venues. Michals has a long term commitment to the Brooklyn waterfront, creating the photographic series Abused and Reused: The Brooklyn Waterfront and being a founding member of the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center, an organization that encourages policy discussion around waterfront issues. She was an artist -in-residence at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 2015. Her work was included in the exhibit Shifting Perspectives: Photographs of Brooklyn’s Waterfront at the Brooklyn Historical Society in 2017. In 2009, Michals photographed over fifty sites in Brooklyn with legacy pollution for the series Toxi City: Brooklyn’s Brownfields, which was exhibited at the Brooklyn Lyceum with support from the Brooklyn Arts Council and the Puffin Foundation. She teaches photography at New York City College of Technology, City University of New York (CUNY) and lives in Brooklyn.
Website: e-arcades.com




This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!