Fifty Houses: Images from the American Road

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" Fifty Houses is a kind of dream book, not just in the otherworldly atmosphere that Sorlien summons up through her apparitional effects with infrared film or through the total exclusion of the humans who dwell within these houses, but also in the way certain of the pictures reach beyond to strike some chord of archetypal resonance... The cool and controlled art behind the photographs draws upon the deep and abiding power of dreams -- not simply those of sleep but also those of our deepest longings." -- from the ...

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Overview

" Fifty Houses is a kind of dream book, not just in the otherworldly atmosphere that Sorlien summons up through her apparitional effects with infrared film or through the total exclusion of the humans who dwell within these houses, but also in the way certain of the pictures reach beyond to strike some chord of archetypal resonance... The cool and controlled art behind the photographs draws upon the deep and abiding power of dreams -- not simply those of sleep but also those of our deepest longings." -- from the Foreword by William Least Heat-Moon

In 1988, photographer Sandy Sorlien set out on a series of journeys to document the rich architectural heritage that America is losing to the cheap and banal design aesthetic of tract housing, strip malls, and big-box stores. Her eight-year odyssey took her over ninety thousand miles of back roads to every state in the Union in search of homes that reflect and define the region in which they stand. After making over a thousand "house portraits," Sorlien has chosen one representative image from each state and collected them in Fifty Houses.

Shot with black-and-white infrared film, the homes captured through Sorlien's lens range from the grand to the humble, from the historic to the commonplace. Included here are a classic saltbox in Newtown, Connecticut; the House on the Rocks in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay; a mobile home in Bushnell, Florida; a Stick-style folk Victorian in Biloxi, Mississippi; a limestone cottage in Fredericksburg, Texas; a false-front house in Rollins, Montana; a log cabin in Dubois, Wyoming; an adobe dwelling in Sante Fe, New Mexico; and a platform tent in Healy, Alaska. Each image isaccompanied by a vignette from Sorlien's road journal, offering details of the house depicted, its owners and history, other houses in the region, or her travel experiences in the state.

At a time when America's architectural landscape is being homogenized by suburban sprawl, when the outskirts of Anchorage and Oklahoma City look no different from those of Tucson, Jacksonville, and Salt Lake City, Fifty Houses provides a remarkable visual record of regional domestic architecture and an elegiac meditation on the changing American landscape.

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Editorial Reviews

James Howard Kunstler
This is America with its clown costuming stripped away and its emotions exposed in all their rue and longing. The plangent photographic images of Fifty Houses glow with radiant authenticity. Sandy Sorlien has a fully-developed instinct for the essential.
but also in the way certain of the pictures reach beyond to strike some chord of archetypal resonance . . . The cool and controlled art behind the photographs draws upon the deep and abiding power of dreams not simply those of sleep but also those of our deepest longings.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801870620
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2002
  • Series: Road and American Culture Series
  • Pages: 136
  • Product dimensions: 10.32 (w) x 8.88 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandy Sorlien has been photographing American landscapes and architecture since 1980. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others, and has appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Photo Review, and Camera & Darkroom. She teaches photography at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. William Least Heat-Moon is the best-selling author of Blue Highways, PrairyErth, and River-Horse.

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Table of Contents


Contents:

List of Plates

Foreword, by William Least Heat-Moon

Introduction: Finding Fifty HousesFIFTY HOUSESSelected Bibliography

AcknowledgementsPLATESNORTHEAST

Sumneytown, Pennsylvania

Newton, Connecticut

Middleburgh, New York

Jamestown, Rhode Island

Worcester, Massachusetts

Putney, Vermont

Sandwich, New Hampshire

Portland, MaineSOUTH ATLANTIC

Peters Valley, New Jersey

Middletown, Delaware

Cumberland, Maryland

Sperryville, Virginia

Scottville, North Carolina

Mountville, South Carolina

Darien, Georgia

Bushnell, FloridaSOUTH

Mobile, Alabama

Biloxi, Mississippi

Thibodaux, Louisiana

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Graniteville, Missouri

Jonesborough, Tennessee

Harrodsburg, Kentucky

Ansted, West VirginiaMIDWEST

Penfield, Ohio

Shelbyville, Indiana

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Oak Park, Illinois

Black River Falls, Wisconsin

SaintCloud, Minnesota

Froelich, IowaPLAINS

Fredericksburg, Texas

Kingfisher, Oklahoma

Eureka, Kansas

Sutherland, Nebraska

Interior, South Dakota

Kulm, North Dakota

Rollins, Montana

Dubois, WyomingWEST

Salt Lake City, Utah

Craig, Colorado

Sante Fe, New Mexico

Tucson, Arizona

San Diego, California

Las Vegas, Nevada

Warm River, Idaho

Portland, Oregon

Sequim, Washington

Iao Valley, Maui, Hawaii

Healy, Alaska

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