Ramsey Library Exhibits

I-26, Corridor of Change
April 2 through 29, 2000

Exhibit funded in part by the North Carolina Humanities Council
Local funding from UNCA Cultural & Special Events Office & Humanities Department

[Photo: Surveyor]

N C DOT geologist Rick Lockamy
attempts to locate I-26
right of way center-line points.

Lockamy commented, "It's hard to believe that if we were standing here in seven years, we'd be flattened by an 18 wheeler."

Rob Amberg


Rob Amberg and Sam Gray
I-26, Corridor of Change: A Work in Progress

Sam Gray is a regional historian and Curator of Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort, North Carolina. Working with the Appalachian Consortium Museum Committee, Gray began in 1994 to document the impact on regional cultures of the construction of Interstate Highway I-26. Based on this work, he was co-recipient, in partnership with Rob Amberg, of the 1999 Paul Taylor/Dorthea Lange prize in documentary studies. The Taylor/Lange prize is an international award given annually to a photographer/writer team doing significant work in documentary cultural journalism.

Rob Amberg, graduate of the University of Dayton in Ohio, is a self-taught photographer. He moved to North Carolina in 1973, and in 1976 started the Southern Appalachian Photographic Archives at Mars Hill College. He has worked as staff photographer and writer for the Rural Advancement Fund. His work has appeared in many publications and in group and one person exhibitions. In 1990 he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. A book of his photographs and writings is currently in production at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

Amberg and Gray will continue to photograph and write about the construction of the I-26 Corridor until its completion in 2002. Images from their work in progress have been shown at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N C in 1997 and were presented in August of 1999 at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, N C.

This homemade sign was erected at the Little Ivy Church Cemetery, Mars Hill,
during removal of graves to make way for the I-26 right of way. [Photo of sign: Where you tread is sacred ground]
Rob Amberg, 1996

Mike Smith, Professor of Photography at East Tennessee State University, writes about Amberg's photographs: "North Carolina is on the brink of dramatic and irreversible changes resulting from highway construction in its most remote and mountainous region. Like any community facing such a force, those living in Western North Carolina feel mixed reactions; the anticipation of progress set against powerful emotions driven by fear and a protective love of tradition. Rob Amberg understands both reactions." (Catalogue of Exhibition, WCU, Cullowhee, NC, 1996)

Amberg's powerful photographs record the painful loss of farms, forests, homes, orchards, and graveyards. As the landscape is irrevocably altered, so is the culture of the people who live there.

[Photo: Fire]
Rob Amberg

The Spring Creek homeplace of J D Thomas was in the path of I-26.
Mr. Thomas looks away as the Mars Hill volunteer fire department uses his home for a practice burn.

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