Pencils are a common item, and an important tool in design, hence why architectural photographer Christopher Payne visits a family ran factory to show the process of production.
General pencils is a generational pencil plant in New jersey which has been producing lead, and colored pencils for decades. Payne’s work is an attempt to follow the “uncurated” production in the grounds of the factory and, to depict the life of the declining American middle class workforce.
Payne’s recent work, including a series in progress on the American textile industry, has veered away from the documentation of the obsolete towards a celebration of craftsmanship and small-scale manufacturing that are persevering in the face of global competition and evolutions in industrial processes. Just completed is Making Steinway: An American Workplace, a tour through the famous Steinway & Sons piano factory in Astoria, Queens. Here a team of skilled workers creates exquisite instruments considered to be some of the finest in the world. Payne captures moments of the choreographies of production, and inspects the parts and pieces of the instruments that will never be visible outside of the factory, telling a story of intricacy, precision, and care he fears is becoming all too rare in the American workplace.
Payne has been awarded grants from the Graham Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. His work has been featured in publications around the world and several times in special presentations by the New York Times Magazine.