Rob Amberg's "Little Worlds"

As a writer, storyteller, and unapologetic inquisitor, it has been a real treat inviting myself into the throes of the Fall Line Press circle. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Rob Amberg and sneaking a peek of his upcoming exhibition upon installation. Per Bill's request, I'll share some of my quick thoughts with you here.

- Kate Douds, Editor, Tulia Magazine


Meandering through Rob Amberg's photos, I'm consumed by the same feeling I have when visiting family in rural West Virginia -- yes, I am from out of town, but I am not an outsider.

To fall into the role of voyeur while documenting bucolic life would be an easy slip, but Amberg's photographs of these Carolina natives feel less like Rear Window and more akin to the interior observations of a lunch guest. Like the Madison County locals who comprise his subjects, I, too, can relax as I move from image to image, trusting his presence and gaze.

Portraits hold a level of intimacy similar to those of Diane Arbus -- understanding but not editorializing. These images are not emotionally manipulative or overly sentimental, like so many representations of the South can be. These are indiscriminate, quiet considerations of what simply is, has been, and will soon be.

This documentation of life in Appalachia simultaneously teases us with hints of narrative (Why did they get that tattoo? Who is that woman?) and calms us with a sense of belonging and shared experience. Dotted with elegant metaphors for tradition and the passing of time, Amberg's new exhibition and imminent third book, Little Worlds, is saturated by a mastery of composition.