The '80s Were Jack Pierson's 'Hungry Years,' Book Out Soon

by Chanel Peykar

Jack Pierson never made his art with the expectation that it would endure. He considers how long humanity has existed, and the vast amount of art that has already been created and lost or forgotten, and chooses to produce something for the present. He doesn’t aim for the lofty goal of immortality; instead, he creates art that is provisional and hopes it speaks to people.

Ironically, Pierson’s art references traditional American motifs of nostalgia and disillusionment, a theme that speaks to all generations and has created a career that spans more than 30 years. And despite his rise to fame, Pierson has never abandoned the autobiographical qualities that imbue his art with a sense of timeless intimacy. The photographs compiled for his forthcoming book, The Hungry Years are no different: a collection of his early work, each image carries a strikingly honest portrayal of his subjects.

The truth he exposes about the people and places make the images feel less like a memory—a photograph of the recent past—and more like moments that could still be happening somewhere. Flipping through The Hungry Years, each image appears as an insight into someone’s day, and each portrait could be from last week or the next.

Though his images often depict a bleak sense America, what he witnesses does not lack aspiration: in his work lies a theme about fixating on fame, creating an ideal that people can aspire to and a sense of hope that underlies his brutal portrayal of the world. He has created a masterful collection of photographs not by striving for longevity, but by photographing not what must endure, but what may, depending on how the present chooses to remember the past.

The Hungry Years will be available to buy on October 24, 2017.

Written by: Bri Di Monda

Images courtesy of Amazon