Paul Shambroom’s new book and Kickstarter (ends April 2, please help support this and get a book!)
Creative Capitol awardee Paul Shambroom is publishing a new book l this summer Past Time: Troubled Visions of the Good Old Days. “I’m proud and excited to launch the Kickstarter for this book! Four years in the making, it is the culmination of road trips across America in search of the visual origins of ‘the good old days.’ My Kickstarter campaign ends on April 2, and while we mare more than halfway to the goal with 100+ backers, there is a long way go. Kickstarter is all or nothing- if the goal is not met no funds are collected or dispersed. Please consider backing it- for $70 you will get an early copy of the book, and higher levels come with signed limited edition prints. You can pledge amounts under that too, anything will help.
This deluxe 108 page volume will feature 64 original photographs and 16 vintage illustrations, movie and TV stills. It will have a foil-stamped cloth cover and spine that references post-WW2 reading primers, two gatefolds, printed endpapers, and high quality paper with spot varnish for the photographs. Higher award levels include a signed volume in a custom foil-stamped clamshell box.
During the campaign leading up to the 2016 election, Donald Trump surprised virtually everyone and started to appear as a viable candidate. The expression “Make America Great Again” was in the air. I was asking myself, where did we get this idea of what America looked like when it was supposedly great? I was interested in photographing contemporary life in places that may have been formative in how we think of the good old days.
Where did the visual touchstones of a serene, prosperous and homogenous America in the last half of the 20th -century come from? Artists, entertainers and entrepreneurs helped establish the myth of “normalcy” of the white middle-class nuclear family in post-WWII America. For example- Norman Rockwell’s clever paintings of small town life on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, Andy Griffith’s weekly televised morality tales in the fictional town of Mayberry, Frank Capra’s tortured but loveable banker hero George Baily being rescued by the fictional town’s citizens (and a watchful angel), Walt Disney’s replication of his fondly remembered Missouri town as feel-good “ main streets” in theme parks.
While these representations served to help many Americans feel good about themselves, and give others in the US and around the world something to aspire to, they also fostered resentment and a sense of separation at home and abroad. What is now thought of as the “good old days” may not have been so good for those outside the privileged demographic of that time, before the full flowering of the civil rights, feminist, and LGBTQ advancements that are once again under threat. Marginalized Americans were rarely seen in the films, TV and illustrated children’s books of the 1950s and 60s.
I’ve spent the last four years photographing places in America that were formative to those who shaped our notions of the good old days. I’ve spent time in twenty selected communities around the country. I avoided the tourist spots (such as the museums dedicated to the famous resident), and simply walked around, met people and photographed the contemporary life I came across.
Why Kickstarter? Fine-art photography books are expensive to produce, and (with rare exceptions) require outside funding to make them (relatively) affordable for regular people. I raised funds from foundations and non-profit organizations for my two previous monographs “Face to Face With the Bomb…” in 2003, and “Meetings” in 2004. I’ve funded the photography and editing phases of this project with university and state research grants, as well as my own money. I care deeply about the issues underlying this work, and want the final product to be beautiful, compelling, and play a role in public discourse. We have decided to use Kickstarter to put this over the finish line because it is efficient and works; and most importantly- it puts the books in the hands of people who really want them, and who I really want to have them.