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20/20 Vision: Travels Along America’s Accidental Highway

Photography by Jan Albers and Karen Titus

The Carnegie Center is pleased to announce a new exhibit, 20/20 Vision: Travels Along America’s Accidental Highway, Photography by Jan Albers and Karen Titus, on display June 3 through July 16, 2011. From 1989 to 1995, artists Jan Albers and Karen Titus took photographs and interviewed people they encountered along U.S. Route 20, the longest transcontinental highway in the United States (3,365 miles). Reaching from coast to coast, it begins in Boston, MA and continues through 12 states, ending at the Pacific Ocean in Newport, OR. U.S. Route 20 enters Indiana in the Northeast corner and then follows the northern edge of the state, passing through Lagrange, Elkhart, South Bend, Michigan City and Gary. During their journey, Albers and Titus documented sites, events, and stories of people who live and work along this road. The exhibit 20/20 Vision: Travels Along America’s Accidental Highway is the result of this documentation.

The artists write, “From diners in the east to western cafés, from DAR activists to wranglers, through major cities and tiny farm towns, rolling hills, plains, high deserts, mountains and major rivers, this road provides a cross section of society, architecture, history and vistas.” Visitors are invited to bring in their own photos from road trips to add to a U.S. map in the exhibit gallery. Road trip photos can also be posted on the Carnegie Center’s Facebook page; Carnegie staff will print them out to add to the map.

In an artists statement for 20/20 Vision: Travels Along America’s Accidental Highway, Albers and Titus (who also happen to be mother and daughter) write, “U.S. 20 is a coast-to-coast highway – America’s longest. It’s also a main street. Dozens of main streets, strung out in short bursts across 3,365 miles of American asphalt, from Boston to Newport, Oregon, with plenty of light and horizon and shadows and fields filling in the blanks along the way. It’s a front yard. It’s a place for neighbors to gather: to celebrate a town’s founding; to fiddle and dance; to toss cowpats and drag pets; to parade for almost any reason at all…It’s a way to the store, and a way out of town. It shows you state capitols, national parks, the ocean. It shows you how our country got its start, and who it shoved aside to become big. U.S. Route 20 is simple and mostly straight, yet oddly easy to get lost on, and in.”

Jan Albers is a freelance photographer who has studied photography at Rocky Mountain School of Photography, School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College. Her work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibits. Karen Titus is a Chicago-based writer and photographer. She is also an adjunct instructor at Columbia College Chicago, where she teaches in the journalism program. Visit the artists’ website at www.accidentalhighway.com for more information.