Paul Greenfield MFA, ARPS

MFA Artist's Statement

I am a baby boomer! I want to show a glimpse into the lives of baby boomers, amidst what they consider to be their treasure. Like many people in my generation, I was brought up to believe that financial success would enable happiness and that it was important to work hard and accumulate material wealth. Getting married, owning a house and car and having job prospects were all important signs of success. Now, as we near the end of our lives, I have been documenting my cohort as we move into retirement. 
My work highlights, from the point of view of an insider, a group of baby boomers relaxing in their homes or in pursuit of their hobbies. The project SELF MADE has been described as People who have everything but nothing; and nothing but everything. My peers are shown in a range of settings and a variety of activities; what constitutes their treasure may be noticed and interpreted in very different ways. What is “everything” and “nothing” in the lives depicted? 
I want the viewers to be slightly perplexed at what they are seeing, but also intrigued by the ambiguity of the images: are these ageing baby boomers happy or sad? Lonely or connected? Fulfilled or bitter? Healthy or unwell? Do they have everything or nothing? 
The double entendre, SELF MADE, might first suggest that the viewers will be seeing images of external material success. However, they may discover once they examine the pictures, that the work depicts people who have made themselves, in a deeper sense, over a lifetime of experience and development.
And given the negative feelings from some of the younger generations who blame the baby boomers for issues such as global warming, I want to prompt the question: have we simply taken advantage of the prevailing conditions, or have we knowingly impoverished the lives of future generations?​​​​​​​
My practice involves an element of construction and blurs the boundaries between the art, documentary and family genres, often with a degree of humour, à la Martin Parr. It is also important to me that my images are as close to the natural settings of the subjects as possible: in this regard, I am as a fly on the wall and most of my work avoids the direct gaze, placing the subject in a natural setting.
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