Jim Dow visited CDS recently to give a talk and sign copies of the few remaining first edition copies of American Studies, which was published earlier this year by powerHouse Books and CDS Books of the Center for Documentary Studies. The second edition was published in November. Here, Dow talks about the road he followed to make these photographs, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the process of making the book, and shares photographs from his new projects.
Obsessive by nature, once praised as “dumb, in the honorific sense of the word,” Dow takes photographs that depict how Americans purposefully create environments and transform their aesthetic power—spiritually, historically, and sometimes commercially. In these beautifully realized images, made in every corner of the United States over nearly forty years of American travel, Dow catalogs aspects of American culture that are seemingly commonplace yet always astonishingly unique.
“Here’s some fresh inspiration for that road trip you’ve been meaning to take . . .” —The New Yorker Photo Booth
“Photographer Jim Dow admiringly prints the cover of his old Rand McNally road atlas alongside the pictures in his new coffee-table collection, American Studies—but, flipping through Dow’s evocative, nostalgic, sometimes haunting images of roadside scenes, taken across 27 different states and over the span of four decades, it’s easy to agree with this bit from his afterword: ‘This book,’ Dow writes, ‘is an atlas of its own.’”—Life