Photographic exhibit opens in Babcock Gallery

| September 17, 2013

An exhibition of work by Norfolk-based photographic essayist Matt Eich will open in Sweet Briar College’s Babcock Gallery with a reception from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26.

“Carry Me Ohio,” images taken from 2006 to 2012 depicting the people of southeastern Ohio, will be on view until Dec. 8. Eich will visit campus to talk about his work at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, in the gallery.

Through his photography, Eich tries to “catalogue the American experience,” often returning again and again to reconnect with the people in his images over time. He was a student at Ohio University when he began taking pictures in the area.

Winter snows flood a road in Mineral, Ohio, 2007. By Matt Eich.

“At the time I didn’t see it as a project about the region, I was focused on documenting the lives of people living in southeastern Ohio,” he says, explaining that “extractive industries” — coal, salt, clay and timber — had essentially abandoned the area in the 1960s after exploiting its natural resources.

“I wanted to see how people were living more than 40 years after the withdrawal of extractive industry.”

Eich says he’s not satisfied with his work just yet.

“As time has passed, I’ve become frustrated with how some of the images function as stereotypes of poverty,” he says. “My true desire is to return and collaborate with residents to create portraits that represent how they see themselves. So, to me, the work is far from done.”

Eich’s commitment to his art appeals to Paige Critcher, who teaches photography in Sweet Briar’s studio art department. She was instrumental in inviting him to show his work at the College and to share it with her students.

“I think that Matt Eich is one of the most important young photographers working in the field of photojournalism,” Critcher says. “I chose his work for its compelling storytelling, and the sense of continuity with his subject matter. There is a vitality and poignancy in the way he handles color and composition; it gives us much emotional information.”

Eich’s commissions include National Geographic, Harper’s, TIME, Mother Jones, GQ, Apple, Sentara Healthcare and others. His photographs have been exhibited internationally, and his prints and books are held in the permanent collections of the Portland Art Museum, the Indie Photobook Library, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and in numerous private collections.

More information about Eich’s work is available on his website, matteichphoto.com.

Babcock Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. It is closed when the College is not in session; please call ahead to confirm hours. For more information, contact Karol Lawson at klawson@sbc.edu or (434) 381-6248.

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Category: Art Galleries