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spotlight: Scott Dalton and Matt Eich

In this issue we introduce you to the two 2011 hcp fellowships recipients. this year’s competition was juried by brian paul clamp, director of clampart (new york, ny). the fellowship call for entries is open to all hcp members; a record 208 members submitted this past season. the carol crow memorial fellowship is awarded to a houston based photographer, and the hcp fellowship is awarded to a national or international photographer. for more information about these annual fellowships, see “calls for entry” at www.hcponline.org.


Macondo: Journeys in Garcia Marquez’s Colombia
The recipient of the 2010 Carol Crow Memorial Fellowship is Scott Dalton. His photographic series, Macondo: Journeys in Garcia Marquez’s Colombia, sets out to explore the people and places that inspired the Nobel Prize-winning book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

First published in Spanish in 1967, One Hundred Years of Solitude instantly earned critical and commercial success, and is often described as a quintessential example of magical realism – a genre in which the supernatural is presented as mundane, and the mundane as supernatural or extraordinary. As German art critic Franz Roh wrote in the early part of the 20th century, “[Magical realism] faithfully portrays the exterior of an object, and in doing so the spirit, or magic, of the object reveals itself.”

The setting for Marquez’s seminal novel is the fictional town of Macondo, and as Dalton writes, “With its surreal charm, [Macondo] represents the uniqueness of Colombia: eccentric and eclectic, timeless and earthy, a place where truth and fiction, myth and reality merge.” And with the book strongly in mind, Dalton traveled through the tiny towns along Colombia’s coast to find the essence of Macondo.

Nonetheless, despite Dalton’s inspiration, his series of photographs can be duly enjoyed without a familiarity with One Hundred Years of Solitude. In essence, what the artist portrays is a richer, more accurate portrait of a country that has been historically painted with ambivalence as either a nostalgic, tropical paradise or a corrupt, blood-splattered battleground in the grip of powerful drug lords. Dalton’s vivid, saturated images reveal a culturally vibrant country full of personalities and people who are certainly facing extreme challenges but also managing to celebrate life to its full extent.

Scott Dalton is an award-winning freelance photographer and documentary filmmaker who has chronicled the civil conflict and drug war in Colombia over the past ten years. His images have appeared in The New York Times, Business Week, Time, Newsweek, Conde Nast Portfolio, Harper’s, Der Spiegel, Washington Post Magazine, and The New Yorker, among others. Dalton’s documentary film, La Sierra, has won numerous awards and been broadcast by PBS, BBC, HBO Latino, and many others.

Carry Me Ohio
Artist Matt Eich is the 2010 HCP Fellowship recipient. He opens the self-published book for his first major photographic series with the line, “This is my love song to Southeastern Ohio.” And as one soon discovers through Eich’s searing images, it is not a place for which affection comes easy.

Southeastern Ohio was once known for its rich natural resources such as coal, salt, clay, and timber. However, once industry had stripped the place of its raw materials, it was abandoned and its people were left to fend for themselves. The communities have long struggled to survive, but with the recent widespread economic crisis in the United States, the outlook for this particular region is even grimmer. In 2006, well before the American recession had hit, Athens county in Ohio reported a poverty rate of 27.4% with a median household income $14,000 lower than the national average. Of course, economic hardship opens the door to an array of other problems, and Eich’s photographs touch upon such issues as substance abuse, birth defects, and crime.

Matt Eich was born in 1986 in Richmond, Virginia, and raised in the peanut-farming town of Suffolk. In the fall of 2004 he began his photographic studies at Ohio University where his love of the medium and his passion for exploring issues of social relevance converged. Thus, he turned his attention to documenting the daily life in the impoverished towns of Southeastern Ohio. One imagines a bright young university student “slumming with the locals,” if you will, but Eich’s perspective is not at all voyeuristic, insensitive or cruel. The images convey a deep empathy for and understanding of the subjects’ profound plight. The artist has spoken of initially meeting one of the series’ main protagonists, the Goins family, at a town hall meeting in Chauncey: “The family had been undergoing a lot of struggles at the time and were kind enough to open their home to me and allow me into their lives…” Eich clearly possesses respect for the people in his pictures, and expresses his gratitude for their trust and generosity.

Carry Me Ohio represents an astonishing accomplishment by a very young artist. Eich continues to shoot in the region, and the series is ongoing. There are still a myriad of powerful photographs to capture, each with its own story to tell. Eich reflects: “Now is the time to look inward and investigate the issues that lurk below the surface within our country. It’s the first step to resolving them.”