Ctrl+P: Photography taken offline—Matt Eich

Elvis the Zebra, The Wilds, Cumberland, Ohio, 2008

Ctrl+P: Photography taken offline is an exciting new venture at Catherine Edelman Gallery inspired by the hundreds of photographs we see on blogs and online galleries. Started in January 2011, CEG introduces Chicagoans to new artists we find while searching the web, exhibiting a small selection of one person’s work every two months, taking the pictures offline and putting them on the wall. It is our goal that Ctrl+P will provide further exposure for these photographers away from the glow of a computer monitor and without the temptation to click to the next link. We hope you will join us by unplugging from the internet and visiting CEG to see these photographs the way they were intended — in print.

If you haven’t come across Matt Eich’s work online, then you’re quite possibly missing out on some good photography blogs (links to a few blogs at bottom of this post). We’ve been watching his work for awhile now, and he was easily on the top of our list when we first decided to start this new project at CEG. Matt’s work has a familiar feel to it, and it draws you into the rooms and yards where he is photographing. The respect he has for the people he photographs is evident in all of his images.  We chose seven photographs from his Carry Me Ohio portfolio to exhibit in the gallery—it was not easy to edit down to such a small group. The images can be viewed on our website here, but it goes without saying that we’d prefer that you come into the gallery to view prints on the wall.

Click here for bio and resume.

Duct Tape, Chauncey, Ohio, 2006

Artist Statement

Carry Me Ohio
“All Americans come from Ohio originally, if only briefly.” – Dawn Powell

Once known for its bounty of coal, salt, clay and timber, Southeastern Ohio was stripped of its resources by the mining corporations that thrived from the 1820s to the 1960s.  When they had mined all that they could, the corporations left, leaving the communities with little but their cultural identity, which is a product of poverty.

For the past four years I have been documenting the people of this region as they attempt to recover from the aftermath of extractive industry. In photographing the residents’ daily lives I’ve explored the culture of the area, as well as the crippling poverty that threatens to extinguish it. The foothills of Appalachia have been my home for the past five years. I met my wife here and our daughter was born here. Now, the same lack of opportunity that has plagued the residents of Southeastern Ohio for decades has forced us to move.

Rampant unemployment, poor housing conditions, drug abuse and sub-standard schools have left many families here in crisis. When I began making these images in 2006, Athens County, one of the poorest counties in the state, had a poverty rate of 27.4 percent and a per capita income of just $14,171. With the economic downturn of the United States these numbers have only gotten worse.

My purpose in creating these images is to show the effect of corporate greed in a forgotten region of the United States. Now is the time to look inward and investigate the issues that lurk below the surface within our country.  It’s the first step to resolving them. In book form these images will form an historical document that remembers the resilient residents of Middle America who will still be there and still be poor long after the eyes of the media have turned elsewhere.

In this community abandoned by industry, it is not only the daily struggles, but living without the opportunity for economic advancement, which has a lasting emotional resonance. Carry Me Ohio is not only a story of social and historical significance, it is also a very personal story about my connection to a place and its rough and resilient people that have been so integral to my coming of age as a person and an artist. These images are my love song to Southeastern Ohio.

–Matt Eich

Links:

Photo Radio -— 2011 radio interview

Burn Magazine —- 2010

Elizabeth Avedon -— 2010

Conscientious —- 2009

Flak Photo -— 2008

PhotoShelter —- 2008 interview

Matt’s own blog on Luceo Image

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