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Guide to the McNair Evans photographs, 2012-2013, 2017

Summary

Shot during fifteen-day Amtrak train excursions, "In Search of Great Men" by photographer McNair Evans combines original photography with first-person, passenger-written accounts to explore contemporary American culture through the people traveling on the Amtrak trains that criss-cross the United States. The photographic body of work consists of 30 large color digital prints, all sized 24x29 inches, featuring portraits of travelers and settings in train stations and passenger cars. The color prints are accompanied by a reproduction of a handmade photonarrative journal of 156 pages with 76 4x5 inch inkjet photographs, paired with comments and journal entries by the photographer, and reproductions of handwritten commentary by the passengers, who reflect on their lives and circumstances, including long-distance family relationships and problems with drug abuse. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.11557
Title
McNair Evans photographs
Date
2012-2013, 2017
Creator
Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
Extent
6 Linear Feet, 4 boxes
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Materials in English.

Collection Overview

Content Description

Shot during fifteen-day Amtrak train excursions, "In Search of Great Men" by photographer McNair Evans combines original photography with first-person, passenger-written accounts to explore contemporary American culture through the people traveling on the Amtrak trains that criss-cross the United States. The photographic body of work consists of 30 large color digital prints, all sized approximately 24x29 inches, featuring portraits of travelers and settings in train stations and passenger cars. The color prints are accompanied by a reproduction of a handmade photonarrative journal of 156 pages with 76 4x5 inch inkjet photographs, paired with comments and journal entries by the photographer, and reproductions of handwritten commentary by the passengers, who reflect on their lives and circumstances, including long-distance family relationships and problems with drug abuse.

In his artist's statement, Evans reflects, "Of course it can be a beautiful way to travel, but for the most part long-distance trains are for people trying to get their lives together, to find work, or to reunite with people they love whom they hope will love them back. This project explores that search for something just out of reach and a bit intangible. It is about the desire for change and the possibility of hope fulfilled...From the promotion of Manifest Destiny, to the creation of time zones, and the fraternal structure of the Civil Rights Movement, passenger train travel has shaped what it means to be American. Comparing this legacy to a prominent and evolving means of transportation in other nations, the current status of Amtrak and the relationships of passengers to the system at large is of great cross-cultural significance."

For this photographic project, McNair Evans received the 2017 Archive of Documentary Arts Award for Innovation in the Documentary Arts.

Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Using These Materials

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warning Access to the Collection

Collection is open for research. Images may only be used for educational, non-commercial purposes; any other use requires the photographer's permission.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use & Permissions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], McMair Evans photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

California Zephyr 32001, 2012
Box 1
Image RL.11557-P-0001
Southwest Chief 15002, 2012
Box 1
Image RL.11557-P-0002
Crescent 03001, 2012
Box 1
Image RL.11557-P-0003
Crescent 13001, 2012
Box 1
Image RL.11557-P-0004
Crescent 10001, 2012
Box 1
Image RL.11557-P-0005
Crescent 01007, 2012
Box 1
Image RL.11557-P-0006
Silver Star 23010, 2013
Box 1
Image RL.11557-P-0007
Sunset Limited 07005, 2012
Box 1
Image RL.11557-P-0008
Carolinian 20010, 2012
Box 1
Image RL.11557-P-0009
Capital Limited 12001, 2012
Box 2
Image RL.11557-P-0010
Capital Limited 13008, 2013
Box 2
Image RL.11557-P-0011
Capital Limited 07007, 2012
Box 2
Image RL.11557-P-0012
Capital Limited 01013, 2012
Box 2
Image RL.11557-P-0013
Southwest Chief 01009, 2012
Box 2
Image RL.11557-P-0014
California Zephyr 18005, 2012
Box 2
Image RL.11557-P-0015
Southwest Chief 27011, 2012
Box 2
Image RL.11557-P-0016
Crescent 11001, 2013
Box 2
Image RL.11557-P-0017
Empire Builder 06008, 2013
Box 2
Image RL.11557-P-0018
Lakeshore Limited 17001, 2013
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0019
Southwest Chief 04003, 2012
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0020
Coast Starlight 03006, 2012
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0021
Sunset Limited 53007, 2012
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0022
Empire Builder 34010, 2013
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0023
Crescent 29001, 2013
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0024
California Zephyr 41005, 2013
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0025
Silver Meteor 12002, 2013
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0026
Empire Builder 22006, 2013
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0027
Silver Star 02009, 2013
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0028
Empire Builder 40009, 2013
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0029
Empire Builder 31006, 2013
Box 3
Image RL.11557-P-0030
Untitled bound composition book journal, 2017
(176 pages, 1 volume)
Box 4
 

Historical Note

McNair Evans is a photographer based in San Francisco and a 2016 Guggenheim Photography Fellow.

He explores themes of shared experiences and identity by photographing the American cultural landscape admits forces of modernization. His personal, often autobiographical, subject matter is recognized for its literary character, unconventional narrative form, and metaphoric use of light.

Growing up in a small farming town in North Carolina, McNair Evans worked repairing track on a 32-mile railroad. He discovered photography studying anthropology at Davidson College, where he received a BA in 2001.

He continued his education with one-on-one mentorships with highly acclaimed pioneers of new documentary practices, Mike Smith of Johnson City, Tennessee, and Magnum Photographer Alec Soth, while earning a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography. Soth nominated McNair for the John Gutmann Foundation Photography Fellowship Award in 2014.

McNair's work has been exhibited across the country, and featured in editorial publications such as Harper's Magazine and The New Yorker, as well as on the cover of William Faulkner's novel, Flags in the Dust. He lectures regularly at universities and colleges.

He was the recipient of Duke University's 2017 Archive of Documentary Arts Award for Innovation in the Documentary Arts.

Separated Material

Separated Materials

Two photobooks with McNair Evan's work, Confessions for a Son, and Begin Anywhere, have been separated from the photograph collection and will be cataloged individually as part of the Rubenstein Library's holdings.


Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.

Provenance

The McNair Evans photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2017.

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Sylvia Herbold, December 2017.

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2017-0196.

Other Notes

Printed with Epson Stylus Pro 11880 on Moab Juniper Baryta Rag, 305 gsm, 100 percent cotton fiber paper with barium sulfate baryta surface, using Epson UltraChrome K3 ink.

Bound composition notebook journal includes inkjet prints and reproductions of handwritten texts.