Bruce Morton returned to his childhood home of Bowen, Illinois to document the place where he grew up. His book, Forgottonia, is named for the 16-county region in Western, Illinois. The book, documenting Forgottonia’s people and landscapes, was self-published with an introduction by notable photographer and curator Aline Smithson. The book is now in it’s third printing, In a statement about the project, Morton, who spent thirty years living in Arizona before coming home, says “Life has changed here but not necessarily for the better. Young people still hope to leave to find a better future. The overall population has steadily declined and the only jobs are still farm related. Small farmers are succumbing to the larger operations.” Included in the book is a shot of the land where his grandfather’s family hybrid seed business once was. Not only is the work personal to Morton, but it’s also incredibly personal to the people who live there, and have lived their throughout their entire lives. Some of the more sentimental images are those from estate sales and auctions [slides 5 and 6].
As Morton writes in the book, “‘It is what It is.’ is a favorite saying here. The people who have been born here, raised here, loved here, and die here are a proud group. They take great pride in the fact that they grow food for the world. They are a group that is often not recognized and they are OK with that. They are what It is.”