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Keith Yahrling: 2016 Finalist

The area of the original thirteen colonies of the United State of America extends from Maine to Georgia and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. Within this historic boundary, the American Revolution was staged and ideological notions of freedom and liberty were first developed.

Since 2012, I have embarked on numerous trips through this historic area, searching for instances that illustrate how contentious notions of freedom and liberty are represented in the everyday actions of individuals and the many ways those ideals are embedded within the landscape. In addition to my explorations of the broader area of the original thirteen colonies, I have also explored locations where battles took place during the Revolutionary War to pinpoint the exact landscapes where individuals fought over the principles that I am trying to locate in the broader settings.


My interests in these themes formed at an early age, from the childhood explorations of a Revolutionary War battlefield located in my hometown of National Park, New Jersey, to the rare stories my father would tell me from his tour in Vietnam. My explorations through America’s original thirteen colonies represents both a desire to understand the democratic roots of my country and my own personal heritage, because the two are inseparable.

The photographs describe the landscape and the individuals within the space of the original thirteen colonies. My intention is to bring to the surface an American ethos within the places I have explored. For the Revolution captures the complex unfinished nature of the United States through all of its triumphs and failures, as we move towards a more perfect union. —Keith Yahrling

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