It Is What It Is

PhotographerJordan Gale
Prize1st Place in Deeper Perspective
Entry Description

I was born an only child and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa by a single mother who since before I was born struggled with a combination of substance abuse and poverty. As a teenager, I learned to resent my mother and her new addiction to methamphetamine; I would also grow to resent the people in my immediate circle for simply not being what I wanted. People around me would tell me how one day I will learn to appreciate the community that made me the person I am today. Maybe they're right. I don’t know. I'm just not sure if that’ll ever fully be possible.    I've heard my mother say it’s the town, that people here get stuck in a mold. It’s the boredom and stagnant nature of the midwest that forces people to cope through means of temporary stimulation. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. Maybe my experience was just my own journey growing up.   I'm in no way comfortable at the moment. But I do appreciate where I've come from. 


I was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; the only child to a single mother who since before I was born has struggled with a combination of drug abuse and poverty. When I was nine, our house was raided by the police on the suspicion that drugs were sold there. After this incident we were forced to move. Following our relocation, my mother attempted to overcome her addiction to methamphetamine. For several months she slept, forcing me to partially raise myself. I always assured my mother that her addiction was never a source of resentment. This promise became more of a lie as a grew up and acquired my own issues with substance abuse. It Is What It Is acts as a form of therapy. A visual diary where I confront the people and decisions of my past. I can now see my actions perpetuated a life I was scared of. I was lucky. For many the cycle of coping through the use of drugs is never broken. Stagnancy and fear create a mold. Some friends and family close to my heart blissfully lay in this mold forever. By photographing the people and scenes most familiar to me, I've began to accept that this is an aspect of my world. These photographs for me often stir up more questions than they do answers. One fact I've learned that I hold close is that, I'm in no way content at the moment. But, I am proud of where I've come from.

About Photographer

I am an Iowa-based photographer and undergraduate student at The University of Iowa pursuing my BFA in photography. I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and moved to Iowa City to study photography in 2014. Since starting my studies at The University of Iowa, I have gone on to work in photojournalism with local news outlets and have created intimate personal projects documenting the lives of those closest to him still living in Cedar Rapids and neighboring communities. My work often highlights scenes of poverty, drug abuse, and the current state of his hometown community. The photographs acknowledge a modern working class struggle in Midwest America, as well as the temporality of humanity and the communities people inhabit.