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Monday, September 12, 2016

Local Photographer's New Exhibit Offers a Chance to Reflect This Election Season

Birds in Flight, Thomas Jefferson Birthplace, Shadwell, VA; photo by Matthew Albritton

In celebration of election season, Kenton County Public Library will exhibit a selection of photographs from "This House to the White House: Birthplaces and Childhood Homes of the Presidents." The photographs are the work of Fort Thomas resident Matthew Albritton, Visual Arts Program Head at Northern Kentucky University's School of Arts.

A continuation of a project to research and photograph the birthplaces of all 43 American presidents (Grover Cleveland was elected twice, non-consecutively), this exhibit, which will take place at the library's Erlanger branch, will feature one photograph from every president from Washington to Obama.

Albritton has served as the project's photographer. His friend Dr. Andrew Leiter, Associate Professor of English at Lycoming College, is writing text that will accompany the photographs in the project, which is nearing completion.

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"The interdisciplinary approach provides a multitude of entry points into American history and culture," Albritton says. "In addition to a personal response to place and history through my photographs, the project highlights the intersections of a variety of subjects, such as specific historical locals and how they change over time, cultural mythologies of the American presidencies, issues of historical preservation, and 280 years of cultural transition from Colonial America—and George Washington's birth in 1732—to the present." 

An exhibit opening, free and open to the public, will be held Thursday, September 15 at 7 p.m. at 401 Kenton Lands Road in Erlanger. Light refreshments will be served.

Bird, John F. Kennedy Birthplace, Brookline, MA; photo by Matthew Albritton 

"I am a photographer because of what I learn from the process," Albritton says. "In researching the presidents, learning the political history of our country, and visiting the birthplace of every president, I have learned a great deal about the people who have shaped our country, but also much about my own choices as a parent, as a citizen and as an educator."

Albritton says the project also illuminates contemporary politics as the election season intensifies towards its conclusions in November. "I hope that visitors to my exhibition will think not only about what they already know about each of the presidents and their politics, but about them in a more reflective, contemplative manner," Albritton says. "So much of our politics is reduced to sound bites amplified by the echo-chamber of mass media. I hope my images work in a small way as a respite from the hysteria of election season." 

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