(Photo credit: Matt Eich, Elvis from the series Carry Me Ohio)
You might remember photographer Matt Eich from the Center’s Consumption exhibition which included the image Double Tap. Continuing to examine the rippling effects of the recession, Carry Me Ohio is a concentrated vignette of rural American poverty and the associated culture. The series received the Community Awareness Award in the 66th Pictures of the Year International competition and earned Matt a nomination for Burn Magazine’s Emerging Photographer Grant 2010. Eich is also currently in the running for the Blurb Photography Book Now Award.
Once known for natural resources such as coal, salt, clay and timber, Southeastern Ohio has been stripped of its resources by extractive industries. When nothing was left the corporations vacated the region… leaving the remaining communities with little but their cultural identity: a product of poverty, which has forged their lifestyle in Appalachia. Communities that once struggled to get by can no longer make ends meet after the economic downturn in the United States. In 2006, Athens County had a poverty rate of 27.4 percent and had a median household income $14,000 lower than the national average.
Take a few minutes to absorb the entire series at www.matteichphoto.com
Photo trivia: Carry Me Ohio is titled after a Sun Kil Moon song by the same name.
(Photo credit: Matt Eich, Double Tap from the series Trouble the Water: Alligator People of Louisiana)
Matt Eich’s ongoing series Trouble the Water: Alligator People of Louisiana is an intimate portrait of a controversial industry throttled by the U.S. recession. Documenting the family owned Daneco Alligator Farm in Houma, Lousiana, Eich counters the jarring violence of the alligator hunt with serene slices of family life. The two, however, are never fully inseparable.
We zip along the outskirts of Shell Island, deep in the swamp of Louisiana, gliding over the tranquil surface. As we near the shore, Rebel, who sits on the bow, hat backwards, eyes watchful, gives a thumbs-down to Julius Gaudet, letting him know that the line they set the day before is in the water. Julius pulls the boat to a stop near the shore as Rebel searches for the line with his gaff. He finds it, pulling hand-over-fist, as if reeling in a large fish. With a splash the reptilian head emerges suddenly from the water and Julius leans over the edge, putting one 9mm round through it’s brain. The two hunters pull their prey into the boat, tag it and toss it onto the deck, which will soon be stacked high with the rest of the day’s haul. Rebel turns to me, wiping blood onto his pants, and with a smile says, “And that’s how we do the gator dance.”
View the entire series and more of Matt’s work at http://matteichphoto.com . Among many accolades, Eich was recently a finalist for Burn Magazine’s 2010 Emerging Photographer Fund Grant. His photo essay, Carry Me Ohio can be seen at http://www.burnmagazine.org.