For years I have noticed items on the side of the road. At first it was a shoe, not a pair, just one. I wondered where the other shoe was and how someone could lose just one? After that initial sighting, I not only saw more shoes, but I then began to spot other items of clothing, such as scarfs and hats, along with larger objects like mattresses, small electronics, and furniture. I am fascinated with why these items are being discarded. Is it simply because they are no longer needed and someone can’t afford to dispose of them properly? Do they accidentally fall from moving vehicles, misplaced and sadly lost forever? Or is there something more to each story?
In December 2015, my family and I packed up our car and left California, heading east to our new home in Connecticut. This was a perfect opportunity to begin photographing these abandoned objects. With the open road in front of me, I had no idea what I would find. To my surprise, other than the usual things thrown out of moving vehicles such as plastic bottles and bags, food containers and napkins, the roadways were relatively clear, bar numerous blown out tires. So, my search was not as easy as I had initially anticipated. However, when I came across three pairs of shoes hanging in a tree on the side of the road on Route 66 in California, things started to fall into place. I wasn’t simply looking for trash, I was searching for things that once had a home and were now left astray; a broken fan at a bus stop, pacifiers delicately placed on a sign at a playground, an animal hide hanging on a fence between two trash cans.
While Astray ventures away from self-portraiture, it continues to explore areas surrounding identity and representation by focusing on lost and discarded items, some may be more personal than others, all of which tell a story and all of which have a past. These items will either be picked up and junked (maybe given a new home if they are lucky) or left to decay, becoming part of the earth, lost and gone forever. For now, through these photographs, I hope to give these forsaken items a sense of place and resonance.
Wherever I travel next, the Astray Map will be updated to highlight what I find along the way.