All posts tagged: Spitting Image

Happy Valley explores the toxicity of American culture

“When I started making Happy Valley, I was still struggling with the hangover of growing up there,” says Eva O’Leary of the series, which stems from the photographer’s experience of growing up in a town entrenched in many destructive aspects of American culture. “I realised that a lot of the things I had internalised as normal were actually toxic.” Happy Valley is the nickname for State College, a town in Pennsylvania. Its identity largely rests on being home to Penn State University, “one of America’s biggest party schools,” says O’Leary. Happy Valley is a slogan, almost a command, given by the university and emblazoned on t-shirts and merchandise, but there is a dichotomy between the idea of Happy Valley and the reality of the place. “The projected image is of a small American, sporty, wholesome town,” explains O’Leary. “People see it as this place of eternal youth where nothing bad ever happens, because everyone there is a student and it’s very isolated.” Growing up in Happy Valley, however, proved very different. “Like a lot of America, …


BJP Staff