The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday December 8th


Photographer captures change in Madison County

The cyclical nature of change in the Madison County community will be on display throughout June at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro.

As a part of the photography exhibit “Madison County – Past and Present,” some of photographer Rob Amberg’s photos of the western North Carolina county will be shown at the ArtsCenter. The featured photographs are from one of Amberg’s books of Madison County photographs, “Sodom Laurel Album.”

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held Friday.

Amberg said that although only a small portion of his collection will be on display, these photographs represent much more than the county.

“As I’ve gotten more involved in the county and lived here longer and longer periods of time, I realized that this place was in many ways kind of a microcosm of the larger country and that changes were coming,” he said.

“Sodom Lauren Album” — the first book in a trilogy of Madison County photography books by Amberg — focuses on the residents native to the community, mostly self-sufficient farmers, who keep up with the traditions of the area.

Amberg said that while the native residents work hard to uphold the customs of the area, the youngest generation in Madison County right now cannot wait to leave the place and try something new.

“It’s kind of up to the young people… to learn the ballads, to learn how to play the music, to learn those folk life customs,” he said.

He also said he did not include photography from his second book, “The New Road,” because he wanted to emphasize the relationship between the older native community and the newcomers.

Art Menius, director of the arts center, said he appreciates the perspective Amberg’s photographs will bring to the Carrboro-area.

“He’s captured the life of an Appalachian community for four decades in stunning black and white images,” Menius said.

“So this exhibit really helps folks in this part of North Carolina to catch a glimpse of life in the mountains and how it was in the 1970s and 80s and how it’s different today.”

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