Earlier in November I had the privilege of attending FotoWeek DC portfolio reviews. For the next few weeks I will be sharing the work of several photographers whose portfolios I reviewed.
Matthew Conboy presented a series he had been working on for ten years. The project, West South West, is highly conceptual and incorporates photography, statistics, and history. Matthew’s project was in its final stages of preparation before release. He came prepared with a concise and articulate explanation of his work and a selection of medium-sized loose prints for easy handling. We discussed a possible re-edit, connecting with his target audience, and strategies for marketing the work.
WSW 1930 (Greene County, IN) and WSW 1940 (Sullivan County, IN)
Artist statement for West South West:
The photographs from West South West document the mean centers of population that are plotted at the conclusion of every US Census. These are the locations where a map of the United States would be balanced if every person weighed the same. These locations have progressively moved in a west-southwesterly direction from Kent County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 1790 to Texas County, Missouri in 2010. The consistent westerly shift of these population centers over the past 220 years evokes the power of the American Dream and the willingness of both citizens and immigrants alike to stake their lives, fortunes, and futures on opportunities located in Western and Border States.
I began this project in July 2001 and then enlisted in the Virginia Army National Guard. Three weeks later, 9/11 happened and I spent more than 5 of the next 12 years on Active Duty. In February 2013, I resigned from the Army and decided that now was the time to finish this project. From July 26th-August 7th, 2013, I travelled more than 2600 miles photographing all 24 centers of population.
WSW 1880 (39.06889 N 84.66111 W)
WSW 1820 (Hardy County, WV)
WSW 1840 (Upshur County, WV)
WSW 1850 (Wirt County, WV)
WSW 1950 (Richland County, IL)
WSW 1940 (38.94833 N 87.37639 W)