Susan Berger is another Lishui participant. Her focus? She stopped. While the rest of us go whizzing by at 80 miles an hour, she stopped and payed tribute, and helped us focus on those who have left us. Roadside memorials are all something we see, but don’t look at. I think Susan has done us a great favor by honoring those who care for those memorials, as well as the individuals they pay homage to.
About Private Memories in Public Places –
My portfolio, “Private Memories in Public Places”, documents the roadside memorials that dot our highways and city streets.Most of us barely notice them as we drive along, but these memorials have become an integral part of the national landscape. Perhaps we don’t notice them because they have become so common that they no longer arrest our attention. And perhaps it’s because they often fit so naturally into the landscape.
As I look at these monuments, I am struck by the obvious care, time and work that went into their creation. They are intended to be permanent and to be visited again and again. The compelling question to me is why the survivors need to memorialize the place the person died. Some have suggested a belief that the soul still hovers at the sight. But I believe it’s because the death was so sudden, violent and unexpected. Perhaps the survivors want to remember that life stopped right here.
I began photographing these memorials in 2005. In 2009, I was awarded a project grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts to travel the country and photograph these little works of art. In 2009, I drove 18,000 miles from coast-to-coast and border-to-border photographing the memorials I found along the way.