In the spirit of Tom Robbins, I wanted to use a quote from his Another Roadside Attraction because this series keys off his title. But this one from Jitterbug Perfume captures the spirit of why I am always stopping along highways and roads to photograph memorials: "...but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures
it (individuality) and rides it in, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to
peculiar station along life's bittersweet route.”
I do not question why I shoot roadside memorials. I have often said that I am haunted by all the photographs I didn't take. I got the idea to shoot these subjects while working on a long-term writing project in Greenville, Texas. Several times during the gig, I would leave the work site as the sun was setting. Just outside the facility's fence was an elaborate memorial, well-kept and very Catholic/Hispanic in tone. The combination of the sun's last rays of that orbit and the macabre statement of "Someone died here!" is perfectly painted in my mind. If I had had a camera with me, perhaps I would have photographed this perfect memorial and never shot another.
I don't have much else to say about this series, other than to say I initially wanted to call is Road Kill, but decided against such poor taste. I hope the work speaks for itself. I will add, however, this cautionary advice. If you think you, too, would like to document these makeshift cemeteries, be aware that there's probably a good physical reason why someone died in an accident in a particular bend in the road. Trucks going by have pulled me into their drafts, tires have sprayed me with gravel, and the sight of some weird dude with a camera on the side of the road have all almost made me a casualty.
And this too: On many occasions I have stopped to make my photograph, only to drive by some time later to see that the memorial was gone. One was even in pieces, cut down by a highway department brush hog. Just another temporary altar on that bittersweet route.