Andrew Borowiec: The Lincoln Highway

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday June 19, 2013

Andrew Borowiec is perhaps best known for his black-and-white photo essay, Along the Ohio. Shot between 1985 and 1998, it was most recently shown at Sasha Wolf Gallery, Chelsea, in 2011.

In a new series, Along the Lincoln Highway, Borowiec puts color to the task of surveying hamlets and towns left behind when the Interstate Highway System began speeding up transcontinental travel in the mid-1950s. And he makes the transition gracefully, carrying forward his signature multilayered view that transforms banal realities to nearly mythic stature.

Borowiec travels the remaining tracks of a highway that almost was, in the process creating a philosophical framework for the series. Seen together, the photographs suggest hopes and dreams derailed but not completely abandoned by progress. For every house whose peeling façade could use a paint job, there’s almost always a well-maintained car parked alongside.

 Under the Westinghouse Bridge, Turtle Creek, PA, 2012. © Andrew Borowiec, courtesy Lee Marks Fine Art.

In a scene from Braddock, PA, a broken-down office chair presides over a weed-choked site; brick factory buildings frame a distant group of billowing smokestacks still in operation. In Homestead, PA, a nicely painted house, uncomfortably close to railroad tracks, sits a few yards from a cinderblock utility building. This is not ideal living, but an undercurrent of optimism surfaces through a jaunty row of plastic tulips that borders a narrow swath of grass between these unlikely neighbors.

In this series, Borowiec has stepped back from the intricate density of visual information that makes Along the Ohio so intriguing, in favor of a more linear perspective well suited to scenes perceived—and conveyed—in color. In a photograph made at Turtle Creek, PA, above, the spatial qualities of this picture could be diagrammed for a short course in perspective drawing. But it is the atmospheric qualities of dampness and fading light that nail the structure of Borowiec's composition.

Andrew Borowiec: Along the Lincoln Highway, opens Saturday, June 22, at the Massillon Museum, Akron, OH. Information. This exhibition has been organized to commemorate the centennial of the inception of the Lincoln Highway.

Andrew Borowiec is the Distinguished Professor of Art at the University of Akron’s Myers School of Art, where he teaches photography. He holds an MFA in Photography from Yale University School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut, and a BA in Russian from Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania. He has received numerous grants and awards, including a 2012 Summer Research Fellowship from The University of Akron, the 2006 Cleveland Arts Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1998. He has published a number of books and photo essays, and had numerous solo museum exhibitions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art (2010), the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago (2003), and the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio (2001). Along the Ohio was selected for American Photography. Borowiec is represented by Lee Marks Fine Art and Sasha Wolf Gallery.