Andrew Bush was born in St. Louis in 1956. He graduated from Pomona College, then went on to Yale University to earn his MFA. What began as his master's thesis project at Yale became a hallmark of his and inspired a generation of documentary photographers. Entitled Bonnettstown Hall, it was completed in 1984, and tells the story of an 18th century manor located in the countryside near Kilkenny, Ireland. Lived in for generations by the same Protestant family, the photos used natural light and are stunning in their detail and stillness.
In 1985, Andrew Bush moved to Los Angeles and there a major transformation took place. While still holding true to the theme of identity as defined by possessions, he began to use both still and video images to capture the photos for his series entitled Vector Portraits. Mounting the equipment on the passenger side of his car, he photographed drivers on the L.A. freeways, their portraits framed by the car window and the surrounding landscape. These drivers, either lost in reverie or interacting with the other passengers, form a series of great American portraits.
I have to confess that I find these photographs mesmerizing. The boundary between public and private space is blurred, giving the viewer a feeling of eavesdropping. Unposed and authentic, the photographs reveal us as we are - ridin' along in our automobile - a decidedly unique American perspective of the road.
Bush confesses that occasionally a driver would notice what was happening, and the typical reaction was consternation. But far from ending his series, Bush plans to revisit it nearly 20 years later. This time the destination for his captures is Rome, Italy. After Bush takes a photo, he mails it to the driver, with an invitation to come to the exhibition where his or her photo will be on display, fully aware that there is a fine edge between public and private space - even in public places.
Andrew Bush is represented by M+B Gallery in Los Angeles and Yossi Milo Gallery in New York. Take a look at the collection in his 2008 book, Drive. Be watching for his drivers of Rome, when more smiles are sure to be coming our way.