There are more Somalis living in Minnesota than anywhere else in the world, except Somalia. I always knew Somalis were here, but I didn’t personally know any.
The buildings that I made these photos in are an unmistakable part of the Minneapolis skyline. They are also the subject of many local legends, the butt of many jokes, and unfortunately a frequent backdrop for news stories about Islamic extremism in the United States. I always knew the buildings were there, but I didn’t know anything about them.
These pictures are my attempt to understand part of my city that I didn’t understand before. I didn’t want to assume anything about these buildings I had seen my whole life, and I didn’t want to let a huge population of fellow city residents continue to be strangers to me. I was curious, and I wanted to know more. I had no idea how long these photos would take me to make, and no idea how much I would learn along the way.
The everyday lives of the people in these pictures seemed so similar to my own life experience; I'm embarrassed to say that I was surprised by that. I wanted that commonality to be evident in the photos. I came to understand the buildings themselves as a small town; roughly the same amount of people live there as in the small town I grew up in. There is a small store, a school, a playground. Everyone knows everyone.
This series of pictures reflects my experience. I am a photographer who wanted to understand a little more about where I live; simple.