I-26, Corridor of Change


I had the pleasure of spending last Thursday at Western Carolina University as a guest speaker in the Art Department. I especially enjoyed the time with students and photography instructor, Susan Martin, and Denise Drury Homewood, the director of the Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center. 
While speaking with Susan in her office she asked if I was interested in taking some copies of a catalog the school had produced for my exhibit there in 1997 titled I-26, Corridor of Change. I had copies in my files, but gladly took a few more. I hadn't looked at it in many years and was struck by how early in the process of my documentation of I-26 that show and catalog were produced. Construction on the road continued for another six years, ending in 2003, and production of my book, The New Road, continued for another six years after that, published in 2009. 
It's always interesting, and sometimes infuriating, to read what others say about your work so it was a real treat to revisit Mike Smith's essay in the catalog, which I enjoyed reading again. Everyone needs to know Mike's photographs. They are a true gift to our region's traditions of art and documentation. His book, You Ain't From Around Here, is simply remarkable. Mike and I both worked with the same publisher for our books, George Thompson. At the time George was the founder and publisher at the Center for American Places in Staunton, Virginia. He now heads GFT Publishing. Here are links to Mike's and George's websites. http://www.mikesmithphotographs.com/
I understand and accept the risk of publishing a praiseworthy essay about oneself. But I think Mike addresses questions and issues that are relevant to the photo community and the community at large. While we make over 2 billion photographs a day worldwide, we largely don't understand the power and the language of photographs. Mike's essay helps with that. It's a good read. Mike also mentions the great Czechoslovakian photographer, Josef Koudelka, who has long been one of my favorite imagemakers, certainly instrumental for me. 
My book, The New Road: I-26 and the Footprints of Progress in Appalachia, is available for purchase on my website. http://robamberg.com/bookstore/the-new-road

Click on individual pages for larger photographs and sharper text.