Sign Language: A Narrative of Americana – Old Signs Along US Route 1
In Sign Language, I use photography to preserve the traditions and histories of the art of sign painting/making. Paying homage to sign art and artists that came before me, I record those remaining manifestations of the dying craft of handmade, hand lettered signage that still line the historic national highway, US Route 1.
I am a fine art photographer working in the documentary tradition. In addition, I have been painting signs since my early 20s–executing murals, working with gold leaf, lettering trucks. In that time I have seen a continuous change in the art of sign making.
As Route 1 has diminished in importance, so too has the art of hand lettering. Because of today’s municipal ordinances, controlling size and structure, these old signs cannot be replaced as they exist today. What was once hand-lettered with brushes is now digitally printed or made of electronic parts. The remaining hand-painted signs continue to carry a deep resonance, displaying a narrative of Americana.
In this body of work I investigate what remains of this visual medium and the changing landscape of this historic road. Furthermore I am inspired by Berenice Abbott’s work in the 1950s documenting US Route 1 during its heyday–before being supplanted by Route 95. I, in contrast, am documenting today’s Route 1, now past its prime.