I-26 at Buckner Gap, Madison County, NC 2008.

ShatterZone will open on Friday, November 7, at the Pink Dog Creative Gallery in Asheville's River Arts District. The address is 348 Depot Street and the reception runs from 5-8 pm on the 7th. This weekend is also Gallery Stroll Weekend throughout the River Arts District and most artists and studios will be open to the public. I will be at Pink Dog Creative on both Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th, after 10:30 on both days, if you'd like to stop by. I hope you will.

The project, ShatterZone, has been in my head for a while now, but remains a work-in-progress. This exhibit has offered me the opportunity to bring together a large grouping of images that speaks to this theme. It's been valuable in moving the whole project forward. Thanks go out to Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer, the owners and operators of Pink Dog Creative. And my friend, Ralph Burns, who stepped in at a moment's notice to handle the multiple things that go into putting on even a small show. Additionally, for me personally, Ralph's long understanding of my work, his critical comments and thoughts, and enthusiastic support made the process easy and comfortable. Lastly, I cannot say enough about Jamie Paul, my associate for over four years who had a hand in every part of this project. It simply wouldn't have come together without him. 


Driving Lessons with Kate, PawPaw, Madison County, NC 2009.


Pink Dog Creative

I will be having an exhibit of photographs at the Pink Dog Creative Gallery at 348 Depot Street in Asheville's River Arts District. The exhibit will run from November 7, 2014 to January 11, 2015 with an opening reception on November 7 from 5-8 pm.

This is my first one-person exhibit in Asheville since my Sodom Laurel Album exhibit at the Asheville Art Museum in 2002 and I'm excited about showing new work from a new project. I want to thank Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer from Pink Dog Creative for this opportunity in their wonderful space. I also want to thank Ralph Burns, my long-time friend and mentor, for his work pulling this exhibit together. Finally, my assistant, Jamie Paul, has been his usual indispensable self who often leaves me wondering what I ever did before he came into my life.

I have included a short essay on the project. Galleries always want an artists statement, or introduction, or something explaining the work. Over the years I've responded to these requests in various and sundry ways. Today's version comes after the image.

Shu and Griffin Shaving Cheyenne, PawPaw, Madison County, NC 2012

These photographs are part of a work-in-progress titled ShatterZone, which is meant to accompany my two previous projects from Madison County – Sodom Laurel Album and The New Road.

Shatter zone is an 18th century geologic term that refers to an area of fissured or fractured rock. The phrase took on new meaning after World War II when political theorists began using it to denote borderlands. In this modern definition shatter zones become places of refuge from, and resistance to, capitalist economies, state rule, and social upheaval. Appalachia, and Madison County in particular, fit that definition.

Throughout its history, Madison has provided a haven for Native Americans, early Anglo settlers, Civil War resisters, Vietnam veterans, and refugees from the country’s cultural wars. The county’s present population includes long-term local families, young professionals, artists, retirees and back-to-the-landers. While the county is wired into the 21st century, many individuals understand it as a place where one can continue to resist modernity and be as “off the grid” as you want to be.

Madison County is not for everyone. It requires new skills, new tools, and new ways of interacting within your surroundings. It takes a rethinking of community and how one relates to it. And while that singular reason for being here – that idea of refuge – is almost universally felt throughout the county, there are also clear points of conflict. Zoning, land use, politics, religion, culture, language and many other beliefs and opinions offer potential for fracturing within the community, pitting newcomers against locals.

These photographs are not representative of the entirety of Madison County’s population or my work from the region. Most of the images are recent, while some are quite old, among my earliest from the county. These early images didn’t fit with other projects, but they are integral to this one, offering glimpses of a place that many continue to think of as unmapped, one of refuge and resistance.  

These are the dynamics of ShatterZone.

Spring Has Sprung


In Our Yard, PawPaw, Madison County, NC.

Spring has always been a busy time of year, but this year seems busier than normal. In addition to the usual farm chores of gardening, birthing lambs, mowing and mucking stalls, we are also involved in a major home renovation in lieu of Leslie's Mom moving in with us over the summer. There are also a number of photography projects during the time period that I hope some or all of you will choose to attend.

On May 1 at 5:30 pm, I will participate in a panel discussion at the Asheville Art Museum as part of their regular "Up for Discussion" series. Titled "Darkroom or Digital: A Panel Discussion," five photographers - myself, Ralph Burns, Steve Mann, Erin Brethauer, and Dana Moore - will look at changes in the photographic process and how each of us has chosen to cope with those changes. It should be a lively discussion. This is held in conjunction with my dear friend Ralph Burns' exhibit at the Museum, which should not be missed.

On May 8, I will be having a one-person exhibit at Flow Gallery in downtown Marshall. Flow is an artist owned and operated gallery that exhibits a wide range of exceptional art and craft from our Madison County community. My show is titled, "Madison County Past and Present: Photographs by Rob Amberg," and will include some of my oldest work from the county, as well as, some of my most recent work. I will give a brief artist's talk on the 8th beginning at 5:30.

From June 8 to June 14, I will be leading a workshop on Photography and Personal Narrative at Doe Branch Ink, a nationally known writers' retreat in Madison County. The facility is in a stunning location in Madison County and offers writers, and in this case photographers, an opportunity to reflect, concentrate and hone their skills.

And not so much an event as an opportunity to see a supersize print of one of my images, please visit the newly opened King Daddy's Chicken and Waffles at 444 Haywood Road in West Asheville. Julie and John, owners of the popular Early Girl Eatery, in downtown Asheville have chosen to grace their main wall with one of my chicken pix. The print will be 84" wide, so big I'm sending it to Vermont to be printed. We're hoping to have it hung in late May. And by the way, the food is tremendous and if you like beer with your waffles, they can accommodate you with that also.


Catch Up

It’s been six weeks since I last wrote on this blog and I must admit I’ve enjoyed the break. There have been a number of intervening life issues that have made writing difficult, notably Leslie’s recent hip surgery and the temporary loss of all our help around the place, which has returned me to “chore” mode. It's served to remind me exactly how much work the young people do while staying with us. Most agree to let me photograph them, which is a bonus for sure. Muses come in many forms, from many directions. But these are flimsy excuses for not writing. So, call it writer’s block, or whatever, but the reality is I just haven’t felt like writing.


Ekho Hawk, one of our great helpers and an incredible model, PawPaw, Madison County, NC, 2013.

The break has allowed me the time to ponder some of the good things that have come my way over the last year. There were one-person exhibits at Wake Forest University and the Carrboro Arts Center and group shows at Duke University and the Madison County Arts Council. And, with the help of my irreplaceable assistant Jamie Paul, my work has been included in a number of online photography magazines and websites including,,,, and


Chickencatcher, Samson, Alabama, 1994  from  Way of Nature, Way of Grace     

Chickencatcher, Samson, Alabama, 1994

from Way of Nature, Way of Grace  

And beginning on November 8, six of my photographs will be included in an exhibit titled Way of Nature/Way of Grace, by the Asheville Area Arts Council, at Pink Dog Creative in Asheville’s River Arts District. This show has been organized by my old friend, Ralph Burns, and includes the work of a number of fine photographers – Tim Barnwell, Steve Mann, Brigid Burns, Mike Belleme, Erin Brethauer, Eric Tomberlin, and others, a total of eighteen artists. It’s an impressive group and I’m proud that Ralph chose one of my images for the exhibit announcement. The show explores the unsettled, and often unsettling, relationship between humans and other life on our planet.

I expect to return to the blog soon.