North and South: Berenice Abbott’s U.S. Route 1

October 23–December 16, 2022

Road Sign Route 1 Maine 1954 by Berenice Abbott Mitchell Gallery St Johns College
Berenice Abbott (American, 1898–1991) Road Sign, Route 1, Maine, 1954. Gelatin silver print.

One of the great photographers of the 20th century, Berenice Abbott was many things: a chronicler of her time, an entrepreneur, and an advocate of the work of others. Her best-known project, “Changing New York,” comprises now-iconic images of New York City in the 1930s as it transformed from a sprawling, low-lying city into a major, towering metropolis. Following WWII, she invented and sold photographic equipment and made scientific photographs. A throughline of her career was her dedication to preserving the legacy of French photographer Eugène Atget. Abbott summed up her career when she said, “The challenge for me has first been to see things as they are.”

Abbott took to the road on several occasions in search of material. This exhibition presents a lesser-known selection of photographs taken on a trip she made up and down U.S. Route 1 in 1954. Fascinatingly, the images predate those in Robert Frank’s The Americans by year or two (Frank traveled America from 1955–7), and the construction of I-95, which began in 1956 and soon replaced U.S. Route 1 as the primary north-south route from Maine to Florida. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America, were published in 1958 and 1962.

This exhibition was organized by the Syracuse University Art Museum.

See the Berenice Abbott Exhibition in the Online Gallery

The Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College thanks the following for their continuous funding and support: Anne Arundel County, Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, the City of Annapolis, The Helena Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Estate of Elizabeth Myers Mitchell, the Mitchell Gallery Board of Advisors, Members of the Mitchell Gallery, Mrs. Ruth Mitchell, the John and Hilda Moore Fund, the Lillian Vanous Nutt Mitchell Gallery Endowment, the Clare Eddy and Eugene V. Thaw Fine Arts Fund, and CovingtonAlsina.


Programs and Events

Opening of the online exhibition North and South: Berenice Abbott’s U.S. Route 1

Sunday, October 23

Book Club: Simone de Beauvoir’s L’Amérique: Au jour le jour (1948) / America Day by Day (1953) with St. John’s College Tutor Samuel R. Webb

Tuesday, November 29, 6–7:30 p.m. | Cohen Study Room, 2nd Floor, Greenfield Library
Registration required

In 1947, seven years before Abbott’s journey up and down U.S. Route 1, Simone de Beauvoir traveled back and forth across the U.S. by car, train, and bus over a period of roughly five months. In 1948, she published L’Amérique: Au jour le jour, followed, in 1953, by an English translation. Join us for a discussion about what de Beauvoir the philosopher observed and chose to write about, and how her depiction of the U.S. at the time relates to Abbott’s.

About the Discussion Leader

Samuel R. Webb is an American philosopher and translator. His work combines approaches from French phenomenology, particularly Sartre, and Anglo-American analytic philosophy. He received his PhD from Sorbonne Université in Paris in 2021 and joined the faculty of St. John’s College this fall. Read Samuel R. Webb’s essay Simone de Beauvoir’s America Day by Day: Being faithful to concrete experience

Self-directed Workshop and Follow-Up Discussion: Photographing MD 450, From Annapolis to Parole

Saturday, December 10, 4–5:30 p.m. (discussion online)

Register for the workshop

After you receive your registration confirmation, a follow-up email will be sent to you in a few days with additional information.

What is the story of a road? How can it be told with images? Drawing inspiration from Abbott’s U.S. Route 1 project, we will take our own photographs along the three-mile stretch of MD Route 450 (West Street) between Annapolis and Parole, and then gather online to look at our pictures and share experiences. Miami-based photographer Kim Llerena, whose American Scrapbook features images from her travels around the U.S, will lead the discussion. Note: This workshop replaces Try-It Tuesday. The date and time has been revised for greater accessibility.

About the Discussion Leader

Kim Llerena is a photographic artist currently based in Miami, Florida. Her work explores private moments, public spaces, and our constructed relationship to place. Her work is in the permanent collection of The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. She holds an MFA in Photographic & Electronic Media from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a BA in Journalism from New York University.