Alana Harrelson

Artist Statement

The goal of my project, Generational Waste, is to tell my personal and familial story of stuff through photographs. I was brought up in an environment that showed extremes of overconsumption as normal, which led me to realize how it relates to society’s casual and constant hyper-consumerism. In my images, you see the stuff + me. That’s how it’s always felt. Through my work, I aim to show the world the negative impacts of overconsumption and the control it can have over our lives. While a lot of the stuff in my work isn’t my own, I grew up around all of it. It brings with it comfort and discomfort.

My family is maximalist. In our homes, you find layers of generational waste; lifetimes of collected stuff. While some families might consume the same amount as mine, they “declutter” often, making their consumption footprint less visible, but the same, nonetheless. Throwing away something has become an easy way of not being responsible anymore; but truly, there is no “away.” As an environmentalist, I constantly think about and struggle with things being unnecessarily wasted; meaning I end up collecting things hoping they may be useful later. The end result of collecting stuff ultimately amounts to an abundance of waste at the end of one’s lifetime.


I am a photographer born and raised in Winston Salem, North Carolina, with familial roots in some of my favorite places of New Orleans and Shreveport, Louisiana as well as Gulf Breeze, Florida. These various cities in the Southern U.S. are all places I call home and have fond memories of growing up and spending time with my family. I believe my calling to photography came when I took my very first photo of my parents when I was 2. This instance always stands out to my parents and I because the photo turned out very well-framed and straight, much to their surprise. For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in photography, but didn’t learn or practice it more seriously until 2015 after taking an introductory photography class in high school. Later, I studied Art with a focus in Photography and additionally majored in Environmental Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC; graduating in May 2021.