Just over a decade ago, Matt Eich started photographing rural Ohio. Largely inhabited by what is now known as the “Forgotten Class” of white, blue-collar workers, Eich found himself drawn to the proud but economically abandoned small towns of Appalachia.
Here he captured the family life, drug abuse, poverty, and listlessness of these communities. “Long before Trump was a player on the political scene, long before he was a Republican, these people existed and these problems existed,” Eich said. His book, Carry Me Ohio, published by Sturm and Drang, is a collection of these images.
“Mining corporations stripped Appalachia of its resources from the 1820s to the 1960s. After taking all that they could, the corporations departed, leaving former boomtowns with little but their cultural identity. When you think of Ohio, stereotypes of Appalachian poverty may spring to mind. For the past ten years, I have made pictures of the people of this region as they attempt to recover in the aftermath of extractive industry. What I have discovered transcends any stereotype – despite circumstances, these proud Americans persevere and cling to family, community, and land with an admirable tenacity.
This place is a microcosm of a story that plays out around our country and around the world. History repeats itself. Our collective memory favours the convenience of amnesia over acknowledging the damage that we continue to inflict upon ourselves. Photography is the antidote. This collection of images is my love song to Ohio”.
— Matt Eich, Charlottesville, Virginia, June, 2016