The West Behind Us
Photographs by Bobby Abrahamson
Interviews and Text by Lisa Wells
The West Behind Us documents four small, rural towns in Oregon – Fields, Mitchell, Long Creek and Halfway – investigating the challenges faced by rural communities in an age of increased urbanization and economic depression. In the tradition of WPA era collaborations like Walker Evans and James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, this exhibition combines black and white documentary photographs by Bobby Abrahamson with interviews and text by writer Lisa Wells to weave a lyrical narrative.
As Dave Blanchard of Oregon Public Broadcasting writes about the project: “The
two Portland-based artists understood the challenges of accuracy and exploitation
inherent in documenting the lives of others. They traveled to the locations separately, not wanting to come across as offering a definitive account of the towns. They instead focused on their personal connections with the towns and the people who live there.” The result is two independent, complementary visions of life in rural America on the cusp of the urban millennium.
Bobby Abrahamson is a Portland-based documentary photographer, filmmaker and
media educator with 25 years experience producing documentary work. He has six
published books of his work, and has been featured in 14 solo shows, and numerous
group exhibits in the US and Europe. His work is included in the permanent
collections of many institutions including the Portland Art Museum, the RACC
Portable Works and Visual Chronicle Collections of the city of Portland, the Oregon
Jewish Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Museum of Contemporary
Art Belgrade, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. Abrahamson has
taught photography and media literacy in the Portland metro area to both adults and children for the past nine years, at institutions including the University of Portland, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Mount Hood Community College, Clark College, Oregon College of Art and Craft, the Portland Art Museum, Newspace Center for Photography, Saturday Academy and Open Meadow Middle School.
Artist’s Reception Friday, October 10, 5-7pm.
The West Behind Us