An Everyman moment for the modern world, from Amy Stein’s Stranded.
Every once in a while an artist comes up with an idea that’s so universal I wish I’d thought of it. Amy Stein photographs people stuck at the side of the road.
Stein’s artist statement demonstrates the disconnect between what we say we’re investigating and what we actually create. Her essay is full of pap about “the despondence of the American psyche as certainty collapsed and faith eroded during the second term of the Bush administration.” But get past that, and the idea is simple and affecting.
From Amy Stein’s Stranded.
Most of her pictures are of cars and people, but the mobile home brought a smile of recognition. Our first house was pre-fabricated, built by kids at Orleans-Niagara BOCES. We bought it at auction and it was the biggest purchase we’d ever made, by far. Imagine our distress when we learned that it had been pulled over for a traffic violation and would spend the night parked next to a gravel pit. I didn’t sleep that night, visualizing thousands of stones in unseen punk hands aiming for all those uninsured new windows we had just paid for.
From Amy Stein’s Stranded.
Every breakdown has its backstory. Yes, it’s an isolating experience, but it is always personal, never political. We are late, we are in trouble, we are too broke to go buy oil, or we need that car to last six more months until we finish graduate school. Despite her rhetoric to the contrary, that’s the reality behind Stein’s pictures.
One scenario familiar to northeasterners is missing: the winter storm that lands our car in a ditch. A Google map, here, explains why: Stein, who is based in LA, never made it up here where the winds blow cold. Stein is intentionally artless and unheroic , but stripping away the conventions of earlier photography doesn’t actually move us; quite the opposite, in fact. Her empty emotional space is a pause waiting for an idea. Someone else should move in and fill it.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!
Carol Douglas

About Carol Douglas

Carol L. Douglas is a painter who lives, works and teaches in Rockport, ME. Her annual workshop will again be held on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park, from August 6-11, 2017. Visit for more information.