"I wanted to create an art that would do more than comment on itself or other works or on the mechanics of perception … I desperately needed to look at and experience and make art that would acknowledge my raw feelings and give order and meaning to my emotional life."
…."the photographs for Suburbia weren’t done by accident. I put together a shooting script of events that I wanted to photograph … Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Birthdays, et cetera. I got a small grant, and began taking photographs every Saturday for a year, so basicallySuburbia was shot in 52 days.” As opposed to other street photographers of the day, such as Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander who, in the tradition of Cartier-Bresson’s and Robert Frank’s politically charged “decisive moment,” constructed their photography around formal visual juxtapositions and visual puns, Owens built his work around the intersection of a neutral journalistic stance and the dry, terse, deadpan commentary of the residents themselves. Where other photographic political critiques of the new America relied solely on visual epiphanies, Owens makes his case accessible, biting and explicit by grounding his visual information in the unambiguous starkness of the residents’ commentary….IfSuburbia renders the suburbs as cultural vacuums, contemporary investigations depict them as far more sinister. What used to be called suburban is today increasingly and pejoratively termed “sprawl.” Indeed, the opening chapter ofSuburban Nation: The rise of sprawl and the decline of the American dream details the history and primary components of sprawl. Seen as unchecked growth and development and understood in opposition to the traditional neighborhood, sprawl is characterized by authors Andres Duany, Elizabeth Platter-Zyberk and Jeff Speck as a conglomeration of single-family housing gated subdivisions segregated by gradations of housing price; shopping centers, office and business parks, and civic centers that are surrounded by large parking lots and inaccessible to pedestrians; and roadways that serve to increase traffic load. For Duany, Platter-Zyberk and Speck sprawl is the fast-food version of the American dream, providing excellent value for its price, but offering little nutritional value for the soul. (Cynthia Morrill, Ph.D., from the Fall 2000 Foto/Text.)