Matt Eich March 11 — April 30, 2011


Carry Me Ohio

"All Americans come from Ohio originally, if only briefly." – Dawn Powell

Once known for its bounty of coal, salt, clay and timber, Southeastern Ohio was stripped of its resources by the mining corporations that thrived from the 1820s to the 1960s.  When they had mined all that they could, the corporations left, leaving the communities with little but their cultural identity, which is a product of poverty.

For the past four years I have been documenting the people of this region as they attempt to recover from the aftermath of extractive industry. In photographing the residents' daily lives I've explored the culture of the area, as well as the crippling poverty that threatens to extinguish it. The foothills of Appalachia have been my home for the past five years. I met my wife here and our daughter was born here. Now, the same lack of opportunity that has plagued the residents of Southeastern Ohio for decades has forced us to move.

Rampant unemployment, poor housing conditions, drug abuse and sub-standard schools have left many families here in crisis. When I began making these images in 2006, Athens County, one of the poorest counties in the state, had a poverty rate of 27.4 percent and a per capita income of just $14,171. With the economic downturn of the United States these numbers have only gotten worse.

My purpose in creating these images is to show the effect of corporate greed in a forgotten region of the United States. Now is the time to look inward and investigate the issues that lurk below the surface within our country.  It's the first step to resolving them. In book form these images will form an historical document that remembers the resilient residents of Middle America who will still be there and still be poor long after the eyes of the media have turned elsewhere.

In this community abandoned by industry, it is not only the daily struggles, but living without the opportunity for economic advancement, which has a lasting emotional resonance. Carry Me Ohio is not only a story of social and historical significance, it is also a very personal story about my connection to a place and its rough and resilient people that have been so integral to my coming of age as a person and an artist. These images are my love song to Southeastern Ohio.

--Matt Eich


Matt Eich (b. 1986) is a freelance photographer and founding member of LUCEO. His work is rooted in memory, both personal and collective and he strives to approach every photograph with a sense of intimacy.  He believes that stories are the fabric of history and that they have the power to inform and transform viewers. While he has worked on five continents, Matt's images focus on his own back yard, often exploring communities, the issues they face and their sense of identity.

In September of 2004 he began his studies in photojournalism at Ohio University. His life and the focus of his work shifted dramatically when his daughter Madelyn was born in October 2007. The following summer of 2008, Matt interned with National Geographic Magazine, traveling to Peru, India, Rwanda and Botswana before returning to Ohio to complete his degree.

While finishing school Matt began working as a freelance photographer for clients such as Newsweek, Mother Jones, TIME, AARP Bulletin, The FADER, Smithsonian, More, The New York Times, US News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Apple, The Canadian Opera Company and others. In 2009 Matt won POYi's Community Awareness Award, The Magenta Foundation's Bright Spark Award, was a finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Grant and was selected for the 16th World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass. Most recently he was awarded the HCP Juried Fellowship at the Houston Center For Photography, a 2nd place in POYi 67, was named one of PDN's 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch and received the F25 International Award for Concerned Photography.

Matt and his family now live in Norfolk, Virginia where he works on long-term projects while compulsively documenting everything around him.

Allimages are available as 11 x 14", 16 x 24", 20 x 30" and 24 x 36" archival pigment prints made in editions of 30, 10, 7 and 5, respectively. Pieces range in price from $450 to $2400, depending on size. There are some exceptions.

Please call: (312) 266-2350 for prices of specific pieces.
Prices are print only unless otherwise indicated.

Matt Eich
As the winter snows melt, Mineral, Ohio, 2007
Matt Eich
Duct Tape, Chauncey, Ohio, 2006
Matt Eich
Elvis the Zebra, The Wilds, Cumberland, Ohio, 2008
Matt Eich
Medicine Bottles, Chauncey, Ohio , 2007
Matt Eich
Skidmark, Chauncey, Ohio , 2006
Matt Eich
Timmy sleeping, Chauncey, Ohio, 2007
Matt Eich
Tylor holding his dad’s ashes, Carbondale, Ohio, 2007