Urban Decay by Laura Russell (POD Version)

$28.00 - Please contact 23 Sandy for current availability.

In my hometown of Saginaw, Michigan, decades of poverty and the decline of the automotive business are creating an urban blight that is heartbreaking. Lost factory jobs lead to lost homes as families struggle to survive. These homes become bank property then gang territory, then arson targets before finally succumbing to city bulldozers.In this artist book, photographs of burned out, boarded-up, homes—once proud family homes—are paired with Laura’s original poetry about a once-vibrant neighborhood and the decay of the American dream. Urban Decay presents 30 photographs, all taken on one cold morning, in one small neighborhood—an area about seven blocks by three blocks. Two poems, introductory text and a map of the burned out houses accompany the photographs. Plywood covers on the post-and-screw binding reference the plywood-covered windows of these forlorn homes. Stained Tyvek flyleaves, flame-burned page fore edges, and branded cover title.

Second Edition: The deluxe edition of this book (shown in photos with wood cover) is sold out. This version is a self-published Print on Demand (POD) paperback edition.

One of the poems featured in Urban Decay:

There, on the porch of the pink one,
the sun shines through the stained glass,
red like a ruby.

There, on the porch of the brown one, 
a baseball left behind as they
rush into night, mascara-smeared faces
dripping like soft fruit in a juicer.

No more crayons, no more trains,
no more baby cribs. It’s all gone.

Gone. The soul of these houses 
as they burn, smoke pouring from 
the windows and doors.

Gone. Soon. The doors and windows
and pipes and siding, all stripped,
all sold. Gone.

How much more can we stand?
How much longer can these empty shells stand?

How can you stand to just drive by 
when the future of your factory town is gone.

Artist Bio

Laura Russell is a photographer and book artist who creates hand-bound, limited-edition artist books that incorporate photographs of our urban landscape and tell a story about our culture and our communities. She has participated in national and international book arts and fine art exhibitions. Her books are collected by individual collectors and are in major collections at museums, libraries, universities and corporations. Laura is also the founder of 23 Sandy Gallery, a fine art gallery in Portland, 2007-2020, which is now owned and operated by Erin Mickelson.

Artist Statement

My goal as an artist is to open our minds to the visual and graphic landscape we look at every day but never really see. If we pay attention, we find that our urban landscape has a story to tell about our culture and our communities. For many years I have photographed vintage neon signs, brick wall ghost signs, graffiti and other examples of language and graphics in our environment. Recently, I have since expanded my photography to our urban social landscape. I use these photographs to create limited edition, hand-bound artist books that are at once a celebration of the vernacular and my own small effort to preserve our social, cultural and commercial landscape.