Elevation is power.  The neighborhood of Sunnyslope provides one of the best examples of wealth and power dynamics within the larger footprint of Phoenix.  In an area extending over just a nine-mile radius, wealthy residents of Sunnyslope neighbor with the less fortunate, sometimes on the same street or a few blocks apart.  Within this tightly populated topography, elevation equates to affluence and power.  With elevation comes a better view, the ability to keep watch on other residents in the area, and greater status in the community.

As a former resident of north Phoenix, the striking economic diversity of Sunnyslope is something that has stayed with me; it is a place that has some of the finest homes in the valley and an area that is riddled with crime and drugs.  These demographics are barely separated.  During the course of the project, I noticed many of the homes in the lower income settings had strong warnings of “no trespassing” and prominent home security signs while almost none of the wealthier homes displayed such warnings, even though they surely have expensive and sophisticated security systems.  For the project, I stayed close to locations near the mountains, occasionally moving toward the center of Sunnyslope.  Elevation proved to be the key factor in the division between higher and lower income settings.

Two graphs illustrating the theory that home value in Sunnyslope directly correlates to elevation are included in the project.  The data collected for the graphs includes the elevation for each home and its valuation provided by Zillow and the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office.  Also included is a map of the locations photographed for the project.


Travis Samuelson

About Travis Samuelson

Travis Samuelson is currently a BFA photography student at Arizona State University with plans to graduate in December 2019. His focus as an artist is on the exploration of the idea that a human event can change a landscape, that certain events retain their impact whether we remember them or not. His work is informed by the study of place; carefully observing the details of specific sites in an effort to gather context and creation of a new narrative. Samuelson was born in California, raised in Nebraska, and currently lives in Tempe, AZ with his family.

Website: http://www.travissamuelson.com