A photographic project on the unique interiors of old roadside motels that are becoming obsolete as national hotel chains take over.
I have been working on this project on and off for the past eight years whenever I travel to visit friends or family. I want to bring it to end this year, and finally produce a book. If this project is funded, I will set out on two major road trips. The first trip will be heading out midwest, northeast, and through the south. The second out trip will be west, northwest, and the plains states. Thank you for funding this project.
What the money will be used for:
• Rental cars
• Shipping film and equipment
• Film processing
• Production of the book
Road trip dates:
First road trip August 2nd to 14th ( I'm planning the route right this week)
Second road trip after my wife finishes her third semester of Masters school as I have to stay home and take care of our two small children. Tentative are December 15th to the 24th.
If necessary I'll take a third road trip January 4th to the 14th before my wife starts school again.
In 2003 after graduating with my BFA in photography from the College of Santa Fe, I took a road trip from Santa Fe, NM to Washington, DC and back with my friend Andy Sell. We left with very little money in our pockets so along the way we slept on the floors and couches of friend's houses, as well as in the cheapest roadside motels we could find.
The time we stayed in in the middle of nowhere Illinois still sticks in my mind. We'd put in a long day on the road so when our tired eyes saw that rates at a motel we were passing started at $23 a night we pulled right in. It didn't matter that it was nothing special from the outside. The point was, we could afford it.
The first thing that caught my eye was the red shag carpet, then the sparseness of the big room. Three full sized beds could have easily fit in there, though there was only one. A tube TV with rabbit ears but no cable sat on a dresser. We had to fiddle with it constantly to watch Robocop on NBC.
Of course we started arguing right away about who was going to get the bed and who would sleep on the floor. But after closer inspection of the carpet we grabbed our sleeping bags out of the car and laid them both on the bed. A sheet of plywood would have been more comfortable.
After the road trip ended, for some reason I couldn't get the motel room out of my head. It hadn't occurred to me to photograph it at the time, though I'd had a 35 mm camera loaded with black and white film with me. The memory kept nagging me.
I never made it back to that particular motel. But a little over a year later in August 2004 I was on a road trip with my fiancé, Ellen, (now my wife) when we stopped at a motel in Clayton, NM. There I made the photograph, "Green Shower, Room 31," the first image of my series American Motel.
foreword by Antone Dolezal
In 1925, the American motel was born – a home for motorists and road warriors traveling along the Great American Highways. The rise of American power after the Second World War and ultimate shift in consumer demands allowed for the motel to flourish and change into what most of us think of it today – a one story U-shaped edifice themed with western imagery, neon signs and tacky American décor. The exterior allure of these roadside attractions has led many photographers countless miles across the Great American Landscape in an attempt to document the quirky quality these motels present – not to mention serve as a temporary home where one can change sheet film, unwind with a beer and grab a chicken fried steak at the diner next door.
The photographs of John Schott immediately come to mind as a prolific study from the viewpoint of the passing motorist. The motels in Schott’s photographs serve as an anthropological view of the height of the motel’s heyday in American history. While Schott focused on photographing the peculiarity of motel exteriors, the idiosyncratic interiors were often over-looked - prodding the viewer to ask… “Well… what the hell is inside those monstrosities!” Eric Cousineau’s photographs center on the overlooked and abused interiors of the last “mom and pop” motels somehow managing to stay alive in an America where staying at the Holiday Inn Express and building up one’s frequent flyer miles has taken the place of our wanderlust for primitive wandering. These photographs began to take shape on a road trip in the summer of 2003, while broke and exhausted from a day’s worth of driving, Cousineau found these seedy temporary rooms a place of refuge. At one of these motels Cousineau had an epiphany and immediately fell in love with the red shag carpet in a roadside motel off of the interstate somewhere in the Midwest. This affection for these strange interior spaces where countless people have slept, watched television or stayed awake all night led to American Motel, a series of photographs documenting what Cousineau sees as the beauty of an enterprise slowly drifting into the past.
These images reflect upon a time when driving across the country was a right of passage into the American frontier. The apparent symbolism of the motel is still strung across the highways and interstates, existing in many ways as an artifact in a roadside attraction. A photograph of a purple coach blending into the texture and design of decades old pink wallpaper expands the idea that Cousineau is navigating in the fashion of a 21st century archeologist – uncovering a beautiful and unique past of a nation that was quick to rise and somewhere along the way left its distinctive reminisce all across the Midwest. Cousineau shows us these artifacts tastefully, without delving into the underbelly of the low-budget motel. He is preserving a part of America’s past – and letting the rest of us who are a little too weary of embarking on a true American road trip a glimpse of what we are missing out on.
This the limited edition portfolio case. That is modeled after the Gideon bible that you find in motel rooms. It houses 10 13x19" prints from the series. (Edition of 10)
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.