True PLaces

Jack Carnell

‘It is not down in any map; true places never are.’
– Herman Melville

Jack Carnell’s book is a welcomed pause in our fast-paced lived experience of the modern world. True Places encourages us as a reader to slow down and appreciate the richness of our surroundings, especially in the seemingly mundane. 

The work showcases Jack Carnell’s unique eye for the textures, intricacies and quirks that make up small town and suburban living in the United States. As well as 51 colour plates, True Places includes 3 essays, by Spence Kass, Nataniel Popkin and Wendy Brenner. Not only do these provide a richer understanding of Carnell’s work, but they offer an insight on photography as a medium; a quieter, more reflective way of viewing the world. As Brenner writes: 

‘Jack Carnell’s images in True Places are so intimate, so intensely expressive and emotional, that a viewer might fail to notice the absence of people. Here, instead, are the tools we use to orient ourselves and our days, the signs, arrows, scales, directions, filing cabinets and drawers, the wires connecting everything to everything. How fanatically we interact with our small territories. How busy we are, running our tiny worlds, before we disappear altogether.’ (2017) 

The book was edited and sequenced by Carnell’s partner, Carol Konopinski, and her eye as a textile designer is evident is the rich array of textures and colours present throughout the book. Carnell’s thoughtful and meditative way of working and living is also a key theme throughout the sequence of images, and as Spence Kass observes: 

‘In our media bombarded world, where images whirl by us at light speed, these enigmatic photos ask us to be still, to contemplate, to enjoy the quiet.’ (2017) 


Born in Chicago, Illinois - Carnell received his BFA degree in photography from the University of New Mexico and in 1976, Carnell received an MFA degree in photography from The Tyler School of Art, Temple University. In 1980 he received a NEA grant for emerging photographers and in 1988 a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. 

Carnell’s work is in the collections of several national museums, and he is currently an associate professor at Jefferson, teaching in the School of Architecture and the built environment. Learn more:

Fall Line Press, 2017
ISBN: 9780998649016
51 color plates and 3 essays
64 Pages
Smythe-sewn hardcover
10" x 9"



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