My Red America
Photographs by William Short
William Short’s photographs chosen for this show are from his on-going series My Red America. These images re-visit the two small towns in central Ohio, Winchester and West Union, where he grew up and where his family comes from, dating back a few generations. I have known Bill since the 1980’s when we both taught at the same college. We initially became friends through the work he was doing at the time, A Matter of Conscience. This is a series of works about G.I. resistance in Viet Nam, where he served, during the war. This work was subsequently published as A Matter of Conscience: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War, with text by Willa Seidenberg.
From the beginning of my awareness of Bill’s work I was drawn into the simple yet complex nature of it. His photographs always seem to capture the initial surface of a “scene” but as one gazes you are brought into the true depth of his vision. His eye is unique as it shows one an observation of life, such as in this series, My Red America, that looks normal, recognizable to anyone having lived in or passed through a rural town. Of course, his view is normal in the sense that we know the contents, we comprehend what we see. However, as we look we “see” much more. We see what is not there. We experience the emotional aspects of the void Short presents us with. This can be unsettling, or one can simply see, an empty, decaying rural home or the almost abandoned Main street of a small, mid-western town.
His works for me speak to many of the 20th. Century’s most celebrated photographers who also focused some of their work on aspects of America, both rural and urban. The works of Arthur Rothstein come to mind, his views of both rural Arkansas and Appalachia, evoke similar comparison. Likewise, the well-known works of Dorothea Lange come to mind. Though I feel that Short’s works are more purposely subtle in their statements than the works of both of these artists as they allow the viewer to reflect on what is not there.
Please take your time and view each of these works. Reflect on what you see and what you do not. I believe you will be moved. Thank you.