Posted by: Necci – Jul 19, 2012
Norfolk, VA-based artist Matt Eich, whose previous project, Sin And Salvation In Baptist Town, was spotlighted in our Spring 2011 issue, will be exhibiting his award-winning project, Carry Me Ohio, at Lorrie Saunders Art Gallery in Norfolk, opening on Saturday July 21.
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 six years I have been documenting the people of this region as they attempt to recover from the aftermath of extractive industry. In photographing their daily life, I’ve explored the culture of the area, as well as on 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. 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.
Poverty is more than the lack of monies; it is the deprivation of opportunity and has a lasting emotional resonance for the individuals who live within its grasp. These images strive to remember a forgotten place and a unique time in American history.
--Artist Statement for Carry Me Ohio
Also included as part of this exhibition will be stills and video from Love In The First Person, an ongoing project dating back to 2007.
The opening reception for Matt Eich's exhibit of Carry Me Ohio and Love In The First Person will take place on Saturday, July 21 from 7 PM til 9:30 PM at the Lorrie Saunders Art Gallery, located at 424 W. 21st St in Norfolk VA.
By Andrew Necci