TV cameras roll as fireworks explode over a crowd gathered to see Punxsutawney Phil’s annual prediction in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on Thursday, February 2, 2012.
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For the last eight years I have catalogued the American experience in pictures, trying to understand this country by focusing on specific places, on community and on the issues they embody. My hope was that these examinations of microcosms of America would allow for a deeper view of the nation as a whole.
My generation lives in a constantly changing world, swept down a river of information with our eyes to the future and a shrinking awareness of the past.
On a personal level, I am apathetic and I am impassioned. I am afraid of being alone; I am afraid of being around people. I fear losing my family, but I fear fully being a part of it. To reconcile these conflicting impulses, I make pictures all the time. For me, to photograph is an extension of seeing, and to see is to acknowledge. It is a ritual and a compulsion. It is a way of filtering the world, of marking things as beautiful and collecting them. It is a way of understanding things that confuse me; and trying to articulate thoughts that are still forming, ones I have yet to find words for.
A dancer is reflected in the glass ceiling of the world famous Mons Venus strip club in Tampa, Florida on August 7, 2009.
Danny’s Softee Freeze on the outskirts of Ashland, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, February 8, 2012.
A hymnal lays open to the song “Amazing Grace” and is held open by a rock at the site where a church once stood in Joplin, Missouri on June 25, 2011. When the Joplin tornado of 2011 hit the town, a wall collapsed in the church, killing several congregants.
A man rides a plane from Charlotte, North Carolina to Norfolk, Virginia on July 10, 2011.
A man leans a cross upon a naked tree, next to a tattered American flag outside of a church that was destroyed by the Joplin tornado, on June 25, 2011 in Jopin, Missouri.
Dawn breaks over the TVA coal ash breach in Harriman, Tennessee on Saturday, January 3, 2009.
Curtis “Rebel” Rageur plants a second bullet in the head of a gator that kept moving after being hauled into the boat while hunting for alligators near Shell Island, Louisiana on September 20, 2009. Each gator is then tagged before being piled in the bottom of the boat.
A masked girl watches the Mardi Gras parade pass by her home in Mamou, Louisiana on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.
Mardi Gras celebrations in Mamou, Louisiana on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.
Horses are hitched in front of a convenience store during Mardi Gras celebrations in Mamou, Louisiana on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.
After the swearing-in of congressmen at the beginning of the 112th Congress at the United States Capital in Washington, DC on Wednesday, January 5, 2011.
A chef rides the elevator at The Capital Hill Club during a gathering for Freshman Congressman Adam Kinzinger, 32, (Republican, Illinois) with supporters after being sworn in to office at the United States Capital in Washington, DC on Wednesday, January 5, 2011. He will be a member of the 112th Congress, and represents the 11th Congressional District.
Assignments for magazines such as Esquire, TIME, GQ and others have taken me into places I wouldn’t otherwise be allowed. With support from BURN I will explore places the magazines will never send me and see parts of this country that I only dream of. The disenchantment of my generation is reflective of our nation’s transitional status from superpower to something less absolute. I will use this funding to continue creating a catalogue of a country in decline.
The photographs are not to be read as condemnation, but rather a call for people to question the things they hold as truth, and to challenge our notions of the world we inhabit. By asking for your support, I am requesting the ability to move freely, to see without constraint, and to soak in the American experience, distilling the photographs into a series that poses the questions that rattle around in our minds as Americans during this time of flux.
People disperse after a cabinet meeting in the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio on Friday, February 25, 2011. Governor John Kasich is a advocate for Senate Bill 5, which would eliminate collective bargaining rights for state workers. Governor Kasich claims this a necessary reaction to the state’s current budget crisis.
Diesel drums in cars explode after being shot with tracer bullets at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Night Shoot in West Point, Kentucky on April 9, 2011.
(L-R) Ryan Slagle, 10, (hand visible), Justin Kaitchuck, 10, and Kris Clark, 10, carry recently caught snakes near the river in Thermopolis, Wyoming on Sunday, August 21, 2011.
A woman exits the subway in Manhattan in New York City on April 16, 2013.
Steve “Spud” Evely calls the dogs after “cocktail hour” where the dogs are allowed to socialize the night before a hunt at Hard Away Whitworth Hunt Club in Greensboro, Alabama on December 8, 2012.
Roy McMillan protests Jackson Women’s Health clinic in Jackson, Mississippi on November 9, 2012. This is the last abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi.
Mike Sells (center) dons a mask and hops in a casket outside of the 55th Annual Sweetwater Rattlesnake Round-Up in Sweetwater, Texas on Saturday, March 9, 2013. Sells puts the casket outside each year as a way of pranking folks driving by.
Madelyn Eich, 4, looks on as her great-grandfather Eugene Martin embraces his girlfriend, Anne Stultz, prior to his 89th birthday at his home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on September 24, 2011.
A quinceaera ceremony at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dalton, Georgia on July 17, 2011.
The Whitehall Trojans High School football team practicing in Whitehall, Montana on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.
An older man and woman drive the highways of Virginia on August 7, 2011.
An American flag hangs in the doorway of an abandoned shop in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York on April 15, 2013.
Matt Eich was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1986 and is the oldest of four children. He studied photojournalism at Ohio University and works for clients that include GQ, Esquire, Mother Jones, TIME, FADER, Harper’s, National Geographic, Apple, Tiffany & Company, Republic Records and others.
Matt has been named one of PDN’s 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch and participated in the Joop Swart Masterclass in 2009. He is the recipient of POYi’s Community Awareness Award and numerous other accolades. He has received support of grants from NPPA, ShootQ/Pictage, Aaron Siskind Foundation, Alexia Foundation and National Geographic Magazine. His work has been shown internationally in galleries and festivals and his prints are in the permanent collections of The Portland Art Museum and The Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
These days Eich lives in Norfolk, Virginia with his wife and two children while compulsively documenting everything around him.