WOODSTOCK, NY.- The Center for Photography at Woodstock
opened its 2014 exhibition program with a solo exhibition of American photographer Sara Macel's May the Road Rise to Meet You, on view from February 8 through March 30, 2014.
Macel's accompanying critically acclaimed monograph, May the Road Rise to Meet You, which was published last fall by Daylight, is available for purchase in CPW's gallery during the exhibition. The book includes an essay by curator and writer Marvin Heiferman.
In the twentieth century, traveling salesmen came to serve as ambassadors of American manufacturing and consumer culture. As the Internet and outsourcing made this once ubiquitous occupation obsolete, photographer Sara Macel's reminiscent series May the Road Rise to Meet You provides us an opportunity to travel alongside her on one of the last business trips with a man who spent 40 years as a traveling salesman, her father Dennis Anthony Macel.
Dennis Macel began his career selling telephone poles in the late 1970s. During her childhood in Spring, Texas, Sara Macel became increasingly curious about where her father went to work when he pulled his car out of the driveway. Upon hearing that he planned to retire in 2014, Macel realized this was her last chance to discover what her father's life had been like for all those years he was away on business.
Macel observed of their travels together, "We were traveling north on I-45 through Texas, when I asked my dad what it was like dealing with customers. He told me 'There's that old saying that you don't know someone until you walk a few miles in their moccasins.' It was in that spirit that I put myself in my father's size 10 boots. What I found in chasing this enormously elusive figure is that I can never fully know my father or what it is like to be a man alone on the road."
May the Road Rise to Meet You is a collaboration between a daughter and her father, and the daughter's attempt to understand her father's life outside of the shared family experience. Nostalgic, and often lonesome, this story is both deeply personal and impenetrable. The name, taken from a plaque that hangs in the Macel family kitchen, ties together Mr. Macel's two vastly different worlds.
Beginning with muted tones that resemble those of the first color photographs and ending with bright, saturated hues, Macel's palette intentionally traces the progression of time as her father nears his self-appointed retirement. She weaves us through his personal narrative while simultaneously crafting a portrait of an iconic figure in modern American history, the Traveling Salesman.
Her photographs are inextricably linked to the great tradition of American road photography, calling to mind Stephen Shore's early color work, as well as the seminal photographs of Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, and most recently those of Alec Soth. Macel's contribution to this ongoing visual vernacular present us with a carefully crafted spin on American snapshots, creating a family album filled with the story of a father's solitary pursuit to provide for his family.
Along with the 20" x 24" photographs on display is an installation of the salesman's desk with personal artifacts featured in the accompanying monograph.
Sara Macel is an artist and photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. She received her MFA in Photography, Video & Related Media at the School of Visual Arts in 2011, and her BFA in Photography + Imaging from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2003. Her work has been widely exhibited and is held in various private collections, and in public collections including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Harry Ransom Center, and at the Center for Photography at Woodstock. Recently, she was named a winner in Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward, Top 50 Photographers in Photolucida's Critical Mass Award, winner in the New York Photo Festival Invitational, and finalist in the FotoVisura Spotlight Awards. In 2012, Sara received the Individual Photographer's Fellowship Grant from the Aaron Siskind Foundation. In addition to her freelance work, Sara currently teaches photography at SUNY Rockland.