Kate Picking Beans in Granny Faye’s Garden, Valdese, NC 1994 from Rob Amberg’s Collection

I was aware of his work before I knew the man. In late 2002 or early 2003, having recently bought property in Madison County, I attended an exhibit at the Asheville Art Museum. I was drawn to the exhibit because photographs from Rob Amberg’s book Sodom Laurel Album were featured at the museum—photographs that Rob had compiled from nearly 30 years of chronicling the denizens of that storied part of Bloody Madison. These were the people that I would soon call ‘neighbor.’

I later got to know Rob when I became the Executive Director of the Madison County Arts Council in 2006. Naturally, our paths crossed in this geographically large but sparsely populated county. We soon became good friends enjoying impromptu chats, shared interests, and a similar outlook on life.

Rob continues his stellar career in photography coupled with compelling narrative. Much of his work focuses on the resilience and self-reliance of the folks of Madison and the mountains. Food and food production is often featured in his photographs, as well as the decline in that self-sufficiency of our mountain region. See his Vanishing Culture Collection.

It is not surprising that a recent blog of his is centered on the garden and its importance, indeed necessity, to all of us. Regardless of our place on the ‘growing’ spectrum, there is a message in his words worth absorbing and applying to our own lives and our relationship with the food we consume. Enjoy!

Visit Rob’s blog: http://robamberg.com/blog

The Smyres Family, Iredell County, NC. From the Rob Amberg Vanishing Culture Collection


Bunky Feeding His Chickens, Brunswick County, NC from the Rob Amberg Vanishing Culture Collection


Farm Turned into a Hunting Club, Harmony, NC. From the Rob Amberg, Vanishing Culture Collection


14-year-old Salvadorian Migrant Collecting Eggs, Iredell County, NC. From the Rob Amberg Vanishing Culture Collection


On the Road to Robert and Jane’s, Madison County, NC. From the Rob Amberg Vanishing Culture Collection

Author: Rod Bowling

Rodney Bowling, is the Accounting & Admin Manager at OGS, and is also co-owner of Mudluscious Pottery & Gardens in Mars Hill, NC. In addition to his homestead and farm, he has committed himself to non-profit finance and management, and previously served as the executive director of the Madison County Arts Council. Rod is a former board member and joined the OGS staff in 2015.