Photography by Justine Kurland

Justine Kurland took her son Casper on the road when he was three months old and spent the better part of each year living with him in a minivan while attempting to work on her various photographic projects, most recently shooting trains, hobos and train riders.

“I don’t know why I do it, I don’t know why I’m a photographer.” and Casper responded, “Mama you are a photographer so you can go on road trips”, as if to say, “I forgive you”.

She describes those times as being “the most beautiful way to be together, nestled under down comforters in the back of a van with all our worldly possessions packed in around us, among red wood trees where we would build forts in the hollows and make soup from their needles, finding star fish in the Pacific ocean and the many glass jars that might spill insect specimens were our car to hit a large bump; ascending mountains in the arid southwest, bathing in hot springs, climbing trees. And ads: “ but it was also the most brutal way to try to be a mother, trapped together alone for months on end while I was always struggling with him to let me make work.  His being penetrated every part of my consciousness and of my working process.  It changed what I photographed and how I photographed.  Nothing could be over thought or confronted frontal but happened in the periphery of my retina. The work became less directed and more prayed for, each picture a kind of miracle, a ghost gleaned from somewhere out there in the American landscape”.