The Long Way Home


Letters from the Rust Belt
April 3, 2012, 7:57 PM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Last month I shot a Polaroid series of Ohio River towns for an Utata project. The “Conversation” theme was a challenge to convey through image, as well as words when it’s only you who can do the talking. I chose to write letters to the people and places who I think about a lot, who have made me who I am. I always felt that some of my better writing came out of letters to friends, and that the letters from others I’ve received over the years were gifts to me. I saved boxes and boxes of them from the time I was in junior high through undergrad, and then before I moved in with Jeff, I felt like cleaning house in my life and shredded almost all of them – seven trash bags full of my personal history down to one small box. It wasn’t until recently when writing for the project that I felt a twinge of remorse for what I had done, realizing how much I miss this kind of communication.

I’ll post the six letters throughout the month. The entire project is found here.

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Looking through mummy’s papers, I noticed that in the late ’70s she listed “housewife” as her occupation. This surprised me, considering we never lived in a house – we lived in that apartment off Sharon Road, the one with the groovy plaid couch. Our neighbors thought it was weird that she gave us fire-belly toads for pets instead of a dog, and that she decided not to send me to kindergarten because she thought nuns were evil. Or how she’d blast Parallel Lines and sing really loud in the kitchen while she baked cookies. Or how she’d roll down all the windows in the car and yell out crazy things to people because she was so happy. You were too young to remember any of this. Everything along the rivers was closing up and falling down. Our father lost his job like most fathers lost their jobs, but that didn’t stop us from dancing.

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9 Comments so far
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Your letters are beautiful.

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Comment by thevintagetraveler

thanks, lizzie, that’s so nice!

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Comment by Lisa

I had to read all your letters and see the other polaroids on the Utata site (but will look forward to getting them one by one). You managed a perfect match of prose and image: a quiet elegiac and picaresque rumination that delivers quite an impact to say the least. I am somewhat stunned emotionally from it. Great stuff.

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Comment by Michael Williamson

your comment is so kind, it makes me happy to read. it was somewhat freeing to write these, maybe because i’ve been turning it over in my head for awhile. it makes me want to write more. thank you for reading them.

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Comment by Lisa

Your last paragraph moves me in so many ways. Those words coming from her voice.

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Comment by motherblue212

thanks, lady. inspired by your dream project, i also wrote about a dream i had which she is in.

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Comment by Lisa

🙂

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Comment by motherblue212

More Polaroids!!!!!

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Comment by jeff

more letters too.

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Comment by Lisa




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