Portfolio: American Motel
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 Indiana 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 Ellen, 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.