NotesFromTheRoad

Saint Michael’s Cemetery, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, January 12, 2013

Walker Evans made his iconic photograph, Graveyard, Houses, and Steel Mill, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, at this cemetery in 1935. During that time, Bethlehem Steel was a celebrated symbol of prosperous American manufacturing. The mill manufactured the steel for the George Washington and Golden Gate bridges and countless navel ships during both World Wars. The industry climaxed during World War II and slowly declined as international competition grew and executives failed to embrace technological innovations. Officially declaring bankruptcy in 2001, the plant and the surrounding area were recently revitalized and a Sands Casino now occupies the grounds.

Nathan, Kyle, & Duarte, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, March 18, 2012

Clouds of smoke lingered in the distance above a densely settled residential neighborhood, calling out to me, like a smoke signal. This curious emission led me to a yard enclosed with a chain-link fence. There I found three generations of family—Nathan, Kyle, and Duarte (left to right) working to clear their yard for a new crop. When I returned later in the spring with a print, the grounds were no longer barren, but were now densely packed with vegetation.

Tommy & Mitch, Waynesboro, Georgia, June 23, 2012

Early one morning, I purchased half a dozen large ripe peaches from Tommy and Mitch (left to right) and soon our conversation moved towards breakfast. Mitch quickly grew concerned that my meager bowl of cereal was an insufficient way to begin the day and offered to take me to the best breakfast spot in Waynesboro. I followed Mitch a short drive down the road, but to our dismay, the BBQ restaurant was closed. However, a backup plan was quickly hatched. We each had toasty breakfast sandwiches at a local Sonic drive-in. As we ate, Mitch told me that his wife took two of their grandchildren to Charleston for the weekend. He was excited to have the house to himself and planned to watch TV on his new wide screen.

Battle of Brier Creek, Sylvania, Georgia, June 24, 2012

At this site, on March 3, 1779, Lieutenant Colonel Marc Prevost and his British forces routed a patriot force of Continental Army troops and state militias. Between 150 and 200 Americans were killed and another 170 captured, while only 16 British soldiers were killed.

Brier Creek is a slow-moving tributary that flows into the Savannah River. The dense mossy landscape has remained relatively the same since the battle. Arriving at the site at midday, I was surprised to find the creek occupied by a number of families. I spoke with various individuals who expressed a sense of pleasure and escape when they visited the creek. I, too, began feeling a similar appreciation of the lush green banks. I hoped the landscape would be conserved for future generations and the legacy of those who died on the banks of the river would continue to manifest themselves through the actions of individuals relaxing on the beach. 

Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket Pequot Reservation, North Stonington, Connecticut, March 2, 2012

I hiked to the top of Lantern Hill to view Foxwoods Resort Casino as it rises out of the surrounding Connecticut swamps. The Casino is one of the largest in North America, encompassing 6.7 million square feet of floor space. It houses a number of casinos, hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and spas. The casino is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. The Pequot were nearly annihilated by European colonists in 1637. Their massive casino could easily seem like a victory, but the casino and tribe are plagued with billions of dollars in debt, which prevents long-term economic security and complete tribal independence.

4

I write a lot while I’m traveling to make photographs. My notes act as a way for me to remember the individuals I meet; I write about who they are, what they do, the conversations we had, and our shared experiences.

These experiences are rarely visible in the final photograph, as are many of the connections between individual photographs. In a number of upcoming posts, I’m going to share some of my direct notes from the road and in some cases, additional research I made after I returned home.

I made the photograph, Sneak, Will, Avery, Sergio, & Kevin, Fall River, Massachusetts, March 4, 2012 one day while exploring the city. Perched above the Mount Hope Bay, a group of friends were riding their dirt bikes around a makeshift course that circled around where I made the photograph. As I approached the group I began talking with Will, who is standing in the middle of the photograph with his hands on the back of his son, he told me that he just bought a new mini dirt bike for his son, Avery. As we talked, Avery, Sneak and Kevin, rode past us on their bikes down to a jump in the mud below and back up the hill. Eventually everyone gathered for the group photograph and after, Will asked if I could take a photograph of his son down in the mud. Of course I agreed, and we walked down into the mud to photograph Avery on his bike.

I told Will that I could bring him some copies of the photographs I made that day, and he said for me to come back to his barber shop, Smooth Cuts on Main Street. I returned a month later to drop off the photographs. While I was there I met Avery and Will again and stayed while Will cut the hair of a steady line of customers. He told me he was popular among the many guys who worked at the Gold Medal factory in town. After I said my goodbyes, I left thinking about how important his space is, not just for the vanity of his customers, but for the social aspects his barbershop brings to the community.

Interstate 95, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, January 16, 2012

Interstate 95 extends nearly two thousand miles along the entire eastern coast of the United States, crossing through the area of twelve of the original thirteen colonies. Traveling this distance during the American Revolution would have taken months. In less then twenty-four hours, contemporary travelers are now able to bypass entire towns and cities as they travel between Savannah, Georgia and Houlton, Maine.